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Table of Contents

A Day in the Life of a High-Tech Liberal Arts Student

Changing Perceptions

Take Us to Our Leaders

Learning Communities - A New Approach to Residential Life

Proposed Wellness Center To Address the Whole Person

Student Center Plans Continue to Evolve

Comings & Goings, Revisited

Staying the Course

Building Bridges: January 2001 Alumni Internship Placements

Alumni Accomplishments

Magazine Cover

Staying the Course
By Neal S. Burdick '72

St. Lawrence's retention rate has slipped in recent years from around 80% to about 70. Why, and what can be done to reverse that trend? That's the charge before a broad-based committee chaired by Coordinator of Retention Services Virginia "Ginny" Schwartz that was launched last summer and is on track to issue a report in late June. The task force has been gathering data about why those students who separate themselves from the University, especially between their first and second years, do so.

Schwartz says that some preliminary patterns indicating which students do not return for the sophomore year, and why, are emerging from the work of the subcommittees. Among them: attrition is high among those for whom St. Lawrence was a low choice, and among those who reported parental pressure to attend St. Lawrence; a sense of isolation brought on by St. Lawrence's location is a fact of life (Schwartz notes, though, that for some students location is among St. Lawrence's strongest points); and relationships with faculty are a concern among many students.

If the task force gets its way, students identified as high-risk will be less likely to fall through the cracks in the future. "We're aggressively testing various interventions this year," says Schwartz, "such as individually tailored responses to the students' own evaluations of their work habits and behaviors. If a student indicates difficulty with note-taking, for example, we set that person up with someone on the academic skills staff. We won't do their work for them. But the more students we can help stay off academic probation, the fewer who will be discouraged to the point of being tempted to leave."

"Few items are as critical to St. Lawrence's immediate future as an improved retention rate," wrote Dean of Academic Affairs Thomas B. Coburn when he announced the launching of the project in June 2000. "We ought to be able to understand our recent history better--and then get better." Ginny Schwartz agrees.

Neal Burdick, the editor of this magazine, was one of the many matriculants whom St. Lawrence has retained throughout its history.