Kansas University could partner with a company to help the university raise its student retention rates.
KU’s most recent retention rate indicates that two years after the fall 2007 freshmen class entered, 28.7 percent of them were no longer enrolled.
Chris Haufler, chairman of KU’s ecology and evolutionary biology department, leads a task force that has outlined new strategies to improve retention rates.
“There’s a great importance for students on the very, very first few weeks at the institution,” Haufler said. “Adapting to that is pretty important. Some students do that very well and some students don’t.”
To help KU better identify those students who don’t acclimate early, Haufler said the task force will recommend to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little that the university contract for help.
Starfish Retention Solutions, based in Arlington, Va., has been in discussions with KU. The two-and-a-half-year-old company offers colleges and universities access to computer software for an annual licensing fee, said John Plunkett, vice president of marketing and operations.
The software connects with course management software systems such as Blackboard, and provides a centralized location for professors to flag troubling behaviors, like students sleeping in class or excessive absences, Plunkett said. The software also tracks grades, and involvement at other campus activities ranging from sporting events to residence hall check-ins when students swipe their ID cards to enter.
The company has about 25 clients, including both public and private universities and community colleges, Plunkett said. He said the company typically charges from a $5,000 to $75,000 annual licensing fee, depending on the school enrollment.
The KU task force’s report has not yet been released, but will be published at the chancellor’s website after Gray-Little reviews the report and responds to it.