Tuesday, October 14, 2014

‘Stop-Out’ students can return to campus in pursuit of their college goals

OU-C strives to offer a bright future for regional residents who are seeking rewarding careers.

The Chillicothe Campus is committed to helping students succeed in college. That emphasis begins with offering individuals an affordable education at a reasonable price. It also includes helping them complete their academic program requirements and earn nationally-recognized Ohio University degrees.

To put that commitment into action, it sometimes requires reaching out to “stop-out” students who dropped out of college before completing their degree requirements. These students are often non-traditional learners who exemplify what OU-C is all about in terms of providing access to students who are balancing academics with job and family responsibilities.

“Many of them stopped out because life got in the way of their academic pursuits, whether the reasons are financial, family-related or otherwise,” said faculty member and Law Enforcement Technology program coordinator James McKean, who has taken a keen interest in the success of these students. “Sometimes they are now in position to return to school and again pursue their academic careers.”

“It is all about student success. We are trying to determine how many stop-out students are in the region, see what barriers caused them to put their college careers on hold and then see if the time is right to re-enroll,” McKean said. “Often they just need encouragement, and it is a matter of urging the students to contact us and discuss steps to take in terms of re-enrollment and degree completion.”

McKean’s focus on engaging with stop-out students began when he was reviewing students’ academic records during the university’s transition from quarters to semesters.

“In reviewing transition plans for students, I would occasionally review a file from a stop-out student. It dawned on me that this is an excellent area of focus for the campus’ efforts in connecting with students who are likely graduates,” he said. “Plus, it is the right thing to do. These students have already invested much time and effort in their college careers, and many are very close to earning a degree.”

Some of the students are closer to meeting graduation requirements than when they stopped out due to change in curricula during the quarter to semester conversion.

“I found one student who lacks one general education course to complete an LET degree, and I am trying to reach this individual,” McKean said.

The time that is devoted to these students is a wise investment. Once they return to the classroom, they are likely to complete their college degrees and use them to pursue meaningful careers. In short, they represent the campus’ mission of serving its region by utilizing higher education as a way to rewarding careers and fulfilling lives.”

McKean, a former police chief, has put his investigative background to work in this pursuit.

“I have used historical DARS reports to identify stop-out students and have combed through the lists.  I have also scoured old class lists and used Facebook and other social media venues to get in touch with students,” he said. “It has been challenging to connect with students. Many have moved and have new addresses or have gotten married and have new last names.”

“Right now, the challenge is to make the approach more structured and systematic,” McKean said. “It is probably most effective to break down the lists of prospective students by academic program.”

McKean’s efforts have become part of a larger and successful campus-wide effort in support of the enrollment management plan. A total of 201 “stop-out” students took steps to re-enroll for fall semester 2014, and 112 of those students registered for classes as increased steps are taken to identify students who are close to completion, and then reach out to them to help them complete their college degrees.

“This effort is important for the students and for the campus,” McKean said. “We were founded with the mission of helping non-traditional students, and this continues in that spirit.”

Those wishing to re-enroll at OU-C should contact Jaime Lowe in enrollment services at (740) 774-7241 or lowej@ohio.edu.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great initiative and work by Dr. McKean! Thank you for your service to our students.