Dear Evergreen Colleagues,
All around me, faculty colleagues have been asking, “What can we do about enrollment?”
It’s not just enrollment, my friends.
It’s also, “What can we do so students want to stay?”
Four out of ten students leave Evergreen in their first year. Four out of ten.
We make all those phone calls to potential students, send hand-written postcards, and create teach-pieces to share in local schools, and then four out of ten first-year students don’t stick around.
So, “What can we do so students want to stay?” is an equally important question.
One thing you can do is go out of your way to support our student success course, Greener Foundations, as it gets on its feet. There are many good, evidence-based reasons why we created it; I will list some here. You can go to our First-Year Experience Workgroup site
for the details, including charts, graphs, and articles.
Cynthia’s top four reasons for supporting Greener Foundations:
1. Greener Foundations is an equity practice
. According to our own Institutional Research, 82% of our students identify with one or more underserved populations. Student success courses are High-Impact Practices and have been shown to dramatically lift levels of college engagement and achievement for students who, a few decades ago, might not have been in college at all.
2. Student success courses have been widely shown to have positive effects on retention
across all sorts of colleges and universities. They don’t take any one form which means our course can be unique, just like we are.
3. They can address several of the reasons we know—from the Non-Retained Student Survey and other data—that students have left Evergreen
. Greener Foundations can help students in several ways:
- Develop confidence in the value and benefits of an Evergreen liberal arts education
- Receive academic and career planning
- Connect to the larger Evergreen Community and develop a sense of belonging
4. Greener Foundations can expand students’ knowledge about and use of a wide range of our support services
such as Academic Advising, the Writing Center, the QuASR, the Wellness Center and more.
So, yes, make phone calls, send postcards, and give talks to local high school and community colleges, but also get curious about what you can do so that, once they are here, students succeed and want to stay. One way to do this is to help Evergreen create a flourishing student success course. This might include figuring out how to disrupt your 16-credit program in a creative way so that a subset of students can be absent two hours a week to do other work. It might mean letting first-year students know you value the work they are doing for those other 2 credits. Or, it might include reaching out to me, the First-Year Faculty Fellow, with ideas about how to make changes so Greener Foundations can better thrive in our unique setting. There are many ways to offer support.
I am looking forward to next year, to welcoming our newly enrolled students, and to doing all we can to help make those four out of ten students want to stay at Evergreen and succeed.
First-Year Faculty Fellow
PS – Clarissa Dirks and I will be presenting an assessment of Greener Foundations at the Week 10 Faculty meeting. I encourage you to attend if you want to hear more about Greener Foundations, what students have to say about it, and what lies ahead. The HAPPieR group will also be engaging with the faculty about their work so far this year, including a focus on equitable and accessible syllabi, and a discussion about how we award credit. In preparation for that discussion, please complete the survey on awarding credit
if you haven’t already.