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Maria Palmieri, PhD Sr. Research Assoc, IR Caroline Miller, PhD Sr. AVP Enrollment University of Cincinnati’s SUCCESS CHALLENGE: Placing Student Success at the Center. Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange

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University of Cincinnati’s SUCCESS CHALLENGE: Placing Student Success at the Center

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  • Maria Palmieri, PhD

  • Sr. Research Assoc, IR


Caroline Miller, PhD

Sr. AVP Enrollment

University of Cincinnati’sSUCCESS CHALLENGE: Placing Student Success at the Center

Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange

For Early Intervention Committee Meeting – October 16, 2008

UC status in 2000

  • Almost 30% baccalaureate Freshmen gone by the start of the second year

  • Fewer than half graduated within 6 years

  • That’s a tragedy for students & tax payers

  • That’s a tough track record to market for a research extensive campus

What Contributes to Retention?

  • Profile – largely a function of institutional & student profile (academic, financial & demographic)

  • Progress – prevailing model is around persistence, but if the goal is graduation we must focus on progress – the distance to the finish line, not the distance from the start line

What Contributes to Retention?

  • Process – If the goal is to raise the overall retention and grad rates, it’s important to focus on the “all” not just those most at risk

  • Promise – Experiences are consistent with the “Promise of the Brand” – break the promise, we will lose students

Access Without Success

National Trends:

  • Retention rates up, then stable – now reported to be dropping

  • Graduation rates now reported to be dropping

  • The disparity is greater for students from low socio-economic backgrounds

Pell Eligibility

  • UC’s Uptown campus enrolls the third highest percentage of Pell-eligible students among research extensive institutions nationwide – about 30%.

  • 50% of UC students are 1st-generation (40% of Uptown students are 1st-generation)

So how does UC compare – particularly for High Risk Students?ENTERSUCCESS CHALLENGE

Success Challenge

Ohio Board of Regents Initiative (1999)

Challenges university main campuses:

  • To increase the baccalaureate graduation rates of in-state at-risk students

  • To shorten the length of time to degree

    Note: Not U College, Not CAT, Not Branches

Success Challenge Management & Partnership

  • Oversight shared by Sr. Assoc VP for EM and Sr. Vice Provost for Academic Planning

  • PI’s in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs manage programs and are accountable for budget and reporting

  • Research Office within Institutional Research performs annual assessment and maintains the data mart

Efforts that Touch all First-Year Students

  • Bearcat Bound Summer Orientation

  • Mandatory Placement in math, English & languages

  • First-Year Experience (some colleges)

  • Mandatory advising (some colleges)

Writing Center

Math Learning Lab

Learning Assistance Center

Killer-Course Supports

Supplemental Instruction

Faculty-Student Interactions

Learning Communities

First-Year Experience Courses

Academic / SocialIntegration

Students of Color

BASE – Brothers And Sisters Excelling

Cincinnati Pride Grant

Students in Transition

Center for Exploratory Studies

Career Navigator Series

Transfer and Lifelong Learning Center

Focused Efforts

Research Goal:Determine if Success Challenge is achieving its goals

  • Are in-state at-risk baccalaureate students graduating at higher rates?

  • Are they graduating in a more timely manner?


  • 2000 and 2001 First-Time, Full-Time Baccalaureate Degree-Seeking Cohorts

  • Compared Success Challenge Participants to SC Non-Participants

    • Graduation Rates

    • Time to Degree

    • Grouped by Pell-Eligibility Status

Degree Sought

Pell-Eligibility Status

Residency Status

Credit Load Level



ACT/SAT Scores

Graduation Status

SC Participation

1st Year GPA


  • Defined 2000, 2001 Cohorts

  • Collected Data:

Control Group

  • Chosen from pool of Success Challenge participants

  • Match the proportion of Success Challenge non-participants

  • Based on stratification variables

Stratification Variables

Preparedness Groupings

Mean ACT/SAT (t-Test)


Success Challenge Participants DoGraduate at Higher Rates than Non-Participants

2000 Cohort Graduation Rates



Success Challenge Participants Do Graduate in a More Timely Mannerthan Non-Participants

2000 Cohort Time-to-Degree



2001 Cohort Time-to-Degree



Success Challenge Participants Have Better First-Year Academic Performancethan Non-Participants

2000 Cohort First Year GPA


  • Rising scores in Student Satisfaction as measured by Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory

  • Rising levels of Student Engagement as measured by NSSE.

Continued Success

University of Cincinnati Uptown Campus Retention Rates (Autumn Quarter, 2008)

UC Graduation Rate climbs to 55% –

Up from 48% just 5 years ago!


Awarded National Best Practice Recipient for the institutionalization of enhanced retention and graduation rates


Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the National Symposium on Student Retention

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