Improving Student Retention
By: Glenn Schulz
Every college whether big or small, public or private, faces the same challenge; how to increase retention rates. Camden County College (CCC) is not an exception. At CCC, student retention is measured by the percentage of first time, full time students who complete their degree in three years or less. Marge Hamilton, Academic Vice President, has been in charge of improving student retention rates since she started working at CCC.
Two areas that are being discussed to help improve student retention are the cost of textbooks and the tutoring center. Hamilton described the cost of textbooks as “one of my personal favorites because everybody wants to keep the total cost down.” Hamilton stated with a laugh that, “when we have to increase tuition its only dollars. I mean that’s a big deal to us.” Hamilton acknowledged the fact that students “get hit hard with textbooks.” She was quick to point out however, that they have been working “very very hard” with Barnes and Nobles to figure out a way to lower the costs of textbooks. Hamilton gave an example that Barnes and Nobles has suggested to them. “If a professor signs on for two to three years with a book, they can then bring in more used books. By bringing in more used books, obviously the student can get a better rate.” Hamilton is pushing for all professors to adopt this idea. “I’m heavily encouraging each department to do this because to tell you the truth, having a book for two to three years is not going to severely influence your education. The material does not change that much. The professors hold the key to this decision.”
Hamilton described the tutoring center as “huge and necessary.” She said that “many of our students were not getting what they needed from tutoring.” The improvement that CCC is making to its tutoring center “matters a lot.” The full time faculty is now more involved with deciding who gets hired to be a tutor. “We think it’s going to help students a lot by hiring our own teachers first as tutors.”