The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Holding fast

ELCA colleges & universities help struggling students stay in school

The first year of college can be tough for most students. For Liz Glick, it was "overwhelming."

Now 20, the California Lutheran University student struggled during her first semester on the Thousand Oaks campus. Never a strong math student, she failed intermediate algebra and then encountered sexual harassment in her dorm. Her grades suffered.

Academic advisers helped sophomore
Academic advisers helped sophomore Liz Glick stay at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks. Most ELCA colleges and universities report first- to second-year retention rates at or above the national average of 67 percent.

After two semesters on academic probation, Glick faced suspension. She sought one more chance from administrators. They granted it, but her grades didn't improve. Glick was placed on academic suspension and had to leave.

Looking back, Glick admitted she wasn't prepared for the transition to college: "I wasn't focused enough. [The suspension was] a real wake-up call."

Student retention — the rate of those staying at their college or university — is a critical measurement for administrators, with implications for accreditation, financial health and student services. For students, a school's focus on retention is more personal — it's a chance to finish college where they started.

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