Student Retention Software Update

By Lauren Carr & Luke Hartman, Senior Writers

Last fall a survey went out to the students that asked them to answer a few questions and they would be entered for a chance to win a gift card. Student reactions to this leaned more on the negative side due to them feeling like they were being mislead by this survey.

The survey was created by a company called Map-Works to help with student retention on campus. If students answer certain questions about how they like living on campus, particularly the dorms, the information helps departments throughout the college with how students feel about living on campus.

Residence Life works with students to help promote the survey and to get them involved with the program. By conducting different events and reminders throughout the five residence buildings, students have been more involved with the survey and are being educated on what it is actually used for.

“When there is a Map-Works survey we make sure everyone on our staff supports and promotes it,” Andrew Weingarten, director of residence life, said. “During the last survey I know that many of our RAs put nice notes and reminders on students’ doors encouraging them to set aside a few minutes for the survey. Others had brief programs where they served some snacks and invited residents into the lounge with their laptops to take the surveys.”

While the survey helps other departments on campus, for students to be involved with this program is extremely important to residence life because it helps them be better acquainted with the students and how they feel about living on campus.

“Just in Residence Life alone the program has already helped us identify and assist students who struggled with housing/roommate concerns that we didn’t otherwise know about,” Weingarten said.

Residence Life staff really pushed students to take this survey in order to better understand and identify the culture of specific residence halls, and used the RAs to personally encourage residents to take the survey. Now that this has been accomplished, some staff are not as satisfied with the results.

“As RAs we have really limited access to the results. It would really be more useful if it were more comprehensive and not just geared towards freshman. While this may be a program that is supposed to be looking towards the future, it seems non inclusive of other class years that may have valid concerns as well. In general it just seems like a reactionary program and not necessarily preventative,” RA Michelle Beltran said.

Older resident students had little knowledge of the program and in many ways feel disadvantaged that they were not necessarily part of the target market for the survey. Transparency seemed to be a big issue within the entirety of the survey process as well as what the program was aimed to do.

“I get that the school is interested in keeping retention rates for future students in a good range, but the incentivizing of the survey in the way it was done just seems questionable. Also I don’t understand why the school had no interest in the attitudes or responses of older students. More than just freshman transfer out, or leave the college for whatever reason, so I just feel like it could have been a more comprehensive process if there was a wider base surveyed,” Senior Deanne Griswa said.

Residence life will continue to use Mapworks and the information it provided to better serve students in residence halls as well as make the campus living experience the best it can be. How well Map-Works will influence this is yet to be determined.