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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Administration studies student attrition rates

By Armando Montaño

This semester, Grinnell will investigate the reasons that some students choose to leave the confines of the College prematurely.

Various administrative offices are compiling years of attrition data to find out why former Grinnell students left the school and did not return.

“We realized that no formal analysis has been done in recent history to examine why, exactly, students leave Grinnell,” said Dean of Students Travis Greene.

In the three years Greene has been at the College, he and other administrators have noticed trends about why students dropped out of the college.

“We noticed some patterns—for instance, that some students were leaving either because of the ‘party culture’ they perceived on campus or because they were interested in an academic program that wasn’t offered at Grinnell,” he said.

The idea to conduct a college-wide attrition survey goes back further than just the last three years, according to Dean of Academic Support and Advising Joyce Stern ’91. “ It’s been on my mind since 2000,” she said.

There is not one single reason that students leave Grinnell. The study led by the administration will involve calling students who left Grinnell in previous semesters. Though exit interviews are generally conducted before students leave, the reasons given are often unclear.

“At the moment of leaving who knows if they’re going to tell us the real reason.” Stern said referring to the exit interview.
Last semester’s attrition statistics have not been analyzed yet, and did not influence the study, despite rumors circulating that increased drug usage on campus caused some students to drop out.

“I have no reason to think that is the cause,” Stern said. “But if people perceive it to be that destructive, then they should tell us.”

“I think it’s always helpful. … Attrition is one of the factors for how well a college is doing, but we shouldn’t be making decisions on that solely,” said SGA President Ben Offenberg ’11.

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    SharFeb 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    So, if it’s been on your mind since 2000 then why no action until 2011? Asking people two years after the event is not a guarantee people will reveal the “real reason” then either. If you’re serious, seems this should be an ongoing effort by Student Affairs and not a flavor of the day.