PNW Pioneer

Administration focuses on retention rate, recruitment

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Administration focuses on retention rate, recruitment

Information provided by Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Information provided by Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Information provided by Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

Information provided by Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.

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The retention rate for freshmen to sophomores has increased since unification, but total fall enrollment has decreased by 4.4 percent.

No information is available for Spring 2018 enrollment yet, but the retention rate for Fall 2017 was 68.2 percent, which was 7.5 percent higher than last year. There were 12,071 students enrolled for the fall semester and 2,236 of those students were dual-credit students. Dual-credit students are high schoolers who are taking college classes at PNW.

Carmen Panlilio, vice chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, said she wants to see continued increase in PNW’s enrollment.

Panlilio and her team have been focusing on recruitment, especially through New Student Orientations and open houses. The Westville campus hosted an open house on Oct. 21. One hundred thirty people RSVP’d for the event and 75 attended. The Hammond campus hosted an open house on Nov. 11. Three hundred fiftytwo people RSVP’d and 172 attended. Altogether, Panlilio said there were 245 students and 625 guests, which was an increase from the 149 students and 187 guests for Fall 2016’s open house.

Panlilio said the increase in attendance at open houses is significant because it shows the increase in recruitment for students that can be a factor in increasing enrollment.

The Enrollment Management and Student Affairs office is using a stronger infrastructure to support recruitment that is called SLATE. SLATE allows for PNW to contact potential students electronically. Panlilio said that within three hours of the open houses, if a student RSVP’d but did not attend the event, the student was sent an email saying they were missed and asked to complete a survey of why they did not attend.

“The fact that we know who they are and have contacted them is key,” Panlilio said. “The community is getting to be more aware and more open to the fact that we are having an open house on a Saturday. The Hammond one also had a record number of guests. We had tremendous response on that one.”

Panlilio said PNW staff also contacted students who attended New Student Orientation and accepted their admission, but did not enroll at the university. She said that out of the 155 students who had attended New Student Orientation and did not register, 28 percent chose a different school, 20 percent delayed their attendance at PNW for the spring semester, 23 percent had personal reasons and 1 percent said it was because of the cost of attendance.

Panlilio said despite recruitment, increasing the retention rate for students is important. She said the retention rate has increased for freshmen and that there needs to be a retention rate increase for sophomores and juniors.

“Recruiting is critical, but retention rate is key,” Panlilio said.

Panlilio said she would like to see the freshman retention rate at 85 percent and the sophomore and junior retention rate in the 90s.

Retention rate and enrollment can also affect the budget. PNW is currently facing a $3 million budget deficit. In response to the deficit, the Purdue Board of Trustees has approved a new rate structure that will lower out-of-state tuition rates 1.5 times the in-state tuition rate. In Fall 2018, there will be a three-tier structure. The first tier will look to find affordable tuition for in-state students; the second tier will be to install discounted tuition for new non-resident students; and the third tier would be to establish a new tuition rate for international students. Chancellor Thomas Keon also announced the university will begin banded tuition, meaning that students would pay the same amount for 12 to 18 credit hours, the same year.

Stephen Turner, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, said the change in tuition is because the enrollment decline on both campuses has caused losses in general fund credits.

An additional 5,000 students are estimated to fill the revenue gap. Keon said PNW needs 170 students to recover the cost of new students. He said that if PNW gained 500 new students he would ask the Board of Trustees to reduce the existing domestic student tuition to 1.5 times. Turner said right now the focus is trying to increase enrollment and solve the budget deficit. He said that last year PNW used the early retirement incentive, and some faculty and staff made use of it.

Turner said it is possible that there could be some more budget cuts.

“The reality is that PNW is operating on wages and salaries from tuition. There could be some things that have to be reduced. We have been largely relieved upon early retirement. There has been and may need to be cuts,” Turner said.

Panlilio said her team will continue with recruitment and she hopes the retention rate will increase.

“For the retention of continuing students, it is critical that we have the support services as well as the responsiveness that will only persuade them to stay and earn their degree at PNW, instead of transferring out to other schools,” Panlilio said.

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