the bottom LINE

Student Retention: A Shared Responsibility

Print Print this Article | Send to Colleague

Student Retention: A Shared Responsibility

By Karen Boudreau-Shea

Declining enrollment and changing demographics have created a new reality for community colleges across the nation. Now, more than ever, student retention is key to strengthening enrollment. But retaining students isn’t the responsibility of one person or department; rather, everyone must work together to create an academic atmosphere that supports students as they navigate the college’s processes and procedures. 
Sound impossible? At CampusWorks, we partner with community colleges to help create institution-wide buy-in for the shared responsibility of retention. We do this by meeting the college community where they are today, bringing together key stakeholders to create a shared vision of what’s possible, and developing a transformation roadmap to help achieve this vision.

Laying the groundwork for transformation.

In order to gain a complete view of an organization’s challenges, CampusWorks’ assessment team facilitates listening sessions that give voice to a diverse group of stakeholders—including administrators, faculty, cross-functional staff, students, and alumni—and empowers them to unpack their individual experiences. We explore current student and employee service levels, organizational structures, business processes, and technology to determine their ability to meet the institution’s strategic needs. Our assessment team is comprised of senior-level functional and process experts who have substantial experience with community colleges, higher education best practices, and ERP enhancement. They have served in leadership roles in admissions, recruiting, student services, and enrollment services, which enables them to adeptly sift through issues among technologies, processes, and people to identify key themes and trace problems back to their source. 

Once the college’s current state has been established, CampusWorks’ facilitators help the community articulate the desired student experience. Our "Defining the Student Experience" Workshop is a collaborative process that elevates individuals out of their specific jobs and helps them see the bigger picture and understand their role in enabling the desired future state. It generates discussion and collaboration about immediate, short-term, and long-term improvement opportunities. The resulting vision statement serves as a charter as members of the organization work together to develop new business processes that increase efficiency, improve effectiveness, and remove administrative burdens so faculty and students can spend time more teaching and learning.

Reimagine the future (and redesign processes to support it).

Armed with this vision statement, CampusWorks’ optimization experts identify and prioritize key areas across the student lifecycle that need to be reviewed to fully align the college’s policies, processes, procedures, people, and technology to best meet the organization's needs and goals. They facilitate interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders to determine where improvements can be made, establish baseline metrics to measure the impact of the transformation efforts, and assess organizational readiness. An important part of this strategy is enabling the college's functional areas to come together and build a set of future state process maps focused on transforming operations, maximizing the ERP system and third-party systems, and improving service delivery to students, staff, faculty, and other constituents.

When the Process Reimagine & Redesign is complete, the CampusWorks team provides a detailed report of their findings and recommendations for improving operations, reducing costs, and positioning students for success. These recommendations help the college automate manual processes, alleviate administrative burden, and leverage data for decision making, thereby enabling staff to quickly identify at-risk students and work together to reach them before it’s too late.

By uniting your community around a shared vision of student success, you will not only create a supportive academic atmosphere, you will ensure that everyone takes responsibility for student retention.

Want to learn more about CampusWorks’ Process Reimagine & Redesign services? Visit

Karen Boudreau-Shea is the senior director of assessment and optimization at CampusWorks, a strategic partner that transforms higher education institutions by providing an independent perspective and creative solutions to improve operations, reduce costs, and position students for success. 


Back to the bottom LINE

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn