Closing the equity gap in retention and persistence rates

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Closing the equity gap in retention and persistence rates

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Associate Dean; Central Michigan University

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Diversity, Equity , and Inclusion are a very important aspects and critical to the mission of Central Michigan University (CMU). While serving on the university DEI committee I became interested in discovering possible causes for and solutions to the differences in first to second year persistence rates between white and underrepresented minority students at CMU. The equity gap in retention and persistence rates in a common problem in higher education. Over the last seven years CMU has experienced an equity gap between white and minority students that averages 7%.

While conducting my research I found many risk factors that can influence the equity gap including pre-college (financial factors, college prep), student experience (feelings of belonging, college transition), and academics (advising, rigor). Multiple resources noted that peer-to-peer mentoring programs increase first year engagement and ease both the academic and social transition to college. I felt this would be a good area to investigate and began looking at existing peer-to-peer programs available at CMU.

What I found were multiple programs across units that have some form of first-year peer-to-peer mentoring programs for minority students, some well established, and no central system for administering these programs. There needs to be an audit of our programs to determine how students are entering these programs, how we match first-year students with mentors, and how durable are the mentor – mentee relationships formed in these programs. The Peer-to-Peer Support Toolkit was a great resource in understanding how we can complete an audit of our programs and provides information from exemplar mentor programs.

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At the conclusion of the EAB fellowship I had a meeting with the Vice President of Student Recruitment and Retention to share my research. Moving forward our university plans to utilize EAB and other resources to audit our existing peer-to-peer mentor programs for minority students and develop a university wide resource for peer-to-peer mentoring programs at CMU. It will be important work and I believe it will improve the student experience for all students at Central Michigan University.

I have enjoyed being a part of the first cohort of the EAB Rising Education Leaders Fellowship. This has been a great experience and I have met many wonderful higher education administrators over the past nine months. It was great to share ideas about my project and research with my capstone buddy Rénard Harris, and gain insight into the workings of a different institution and how they solve problems. I am very appreciative by the opportunity to have met and work with so many great people through this experience.

See the fellows' blogs from the capstone projects

Amy Capolupo and others participated in the Spring 2021 EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship

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