Goucher College has an average retention rate of 83.5%, which is higher than the national average, but difficult for a college where the average freshman class size often hovers around 400. Even a small drop in the rate can indicate issues for future students. The retention rate only covers fall-to-fall rates between the freshman and sophomore year. The retention committee, which was created recently in response to a drop in retention rates, has taken the responsibility of figuring out why so many students aren’t returning and what they can do to fix the issue.
Professor La Jerne Terry Cornish, who is one of the members of the committee, said the committee’s first goal is to “identify factors which affect retention and persons responsible for addressing those issues.” Once the issues are identified and people responsible are contacted, their next goal is to look at exit interviews. Every student who leaves Goucher must attend an “exit interview” where they will be asked why they are leaving the school. The data will then be analyzed and the committee will look to see if students have highlighted any factors they have not noticed beforehand.
Cornish believes some of the factors concerning the retention rate are that: Goucher wasn’t their first choice, the school is too small, lacks the major they want to study and that some students are simply under prepared for Goucher’s academic rigor. Some of the other factors the committee is looking at include students’ high school GPA, Standardized testing scores, mental health, social life and the number of courses a student is taking. “We’re just looking at all factors,” Cornish said. While financial aid was bought up as a possible reason for the lowering retention rate, Cornish mentioned that around 80% of students at Goucher receive some sort of financial aid, and that if a student runs into some sort of difficulty, they can try to work out a deal with financial aid office to see if their needs can be met. When asked about the Video Application, Cornish replied that she isn’t sure how it will affect retention, however, she does think that students who apply through it are more likely to have Goucher as their top choice, and therefore, more likely attend the school. “What I love about the Video App is that…a student who uses the Video App is a student who really wants to go to Goucher,” she said. “It may increase the number of underrepresented groups at Goucher, though.”
Other members of the committee come from different departments on Goucher’s campus. They include Stephanie Bender, Dean Bryan Coker, Stacy Cooper Patterson, Emily Perl, Andrew Wu, Bill Leimbach. Corky Surbek, Provost Marc Roy, Cas Freeland, Linda Holloway, Peejo Sehr, Janet Shope and Candance Doane Martinez. Each comes from a different department at the college in order to bring something different to the table.
The committee also has two student members, Erin Snyder ’17 and Raekwon Walker ’17, who joined after hearing through the program through GSG.
Students who wish to contribute their ideas about retention are welcome to share their concerns or ideas to either of the student members or staff members. The committee meets every Thursday from to 2 to 3 pm.