Letter to the editor: How to improve retention at Drexel | The Triangle
Letters to the Editor

Letter to the editor: How to improve retention at Drexel

Sebastian Weigand: Wikimedia Commons
Sebastian Weigand: Wikimedia Commons

At a time when talented students have many excellent college and university choices, and families are, more than ever, expecting a return on their educational investment, we at Drexel University have implemented a new student enrollment and retention strategy and it is already paying dividends.

Our goal is to recruit and enroll right-fit students who know us well and who will contribute as much as they gain from the Drexel community. It is also our priority to support our students so they graduate and go on to do great things as Drexel alumni. And, there are ways you can help us build upon our success.

Telling the Drexel story well and continuing to develop a culture of student success is a collective effort. That is why I was so pleased to hear that Triangle editors — while meeting recently with President John A. Fry — asked how students themselves could help the cause.

Here is the best thing I can suggest by way of advice: Tell your Drexel story broadly and help us make the Drexel experience the best it can be. Hold us, and each other, accountable in the classroom, in the residence halls, in Drexel Central, with community building, through your co-op experience and in any other way that will support you to be successful. Look to your own experience. What were the factors that influenced your decision to attend Drexel? How can we improve the experience for you and future Drexel students?

When you gather a mental checklist of the factors that influenced your decision to attend Drexel, I imagine it might include a number of common factors. Drexel’s rigorous academics combined with professional experience, professional development and networking through co-op, likely attracted you. Philadelphia is such an integral part of the Drexel experience, and I’m sure being an urban university — with all the excitement that comes from living in a major city, and the talent Philadelphia attracts — also was a factor in your decision making.

Think about how you discovered Drexel. If you’re like most students, your high school counselor provided some information, and maybe you had a friend or family member who attended or knew something about Drexel. You probably did some of your own research by checking out our website. You likely ran into a friend at your high school homecoming and asked, “So, how do you like Drexel?” And I believe that what they said — especially if they raved about their experience — made a big impression.

Sharing your Drexel story with future Drexel students can make all the difference. So, yes, it’s important to volunteer for campus events organized to acquaint prospective students with Drexel. Serving in our student admissions ambassador program and conducting campus tours or volunteering during our on-campus events are great ways to help.

Not everyone’s schedule can accommodate those roles, but everyone at the university can tell their own story, and that’s what I would encourage you to do. When talking about your experience, you become a goodwill ambassador. It could be on a trip home, when you’re working at your co-op, meeting friends or sharing your Drexel experience through social media.

And if I can make a few suggestions, share how your classroom experience positions you to succeed in a professional environment when you are on co-op, and vice versa. Co-op is really a unique form of professional development with critical networking and work-ready skill development opportunities. In other words, it’s so much more than a job. As you tell your story, whatever the narrative, I only ask that you make sure it’s the complete story of how the combination of a world-class academic experience combines with professional work experience through co-op to prepare you well for your future.

Enhancing a culture of student success is also a critical part of our new approach, so don’t only talk to your peers; talk to me, especially if you have ideas on how we can improve your experience and this University. My door is always open, and as I said, hold us accountable. Become engaged in, and help us shape, what’s happening on campus. Your feedback is critical to our continued improvement.

What’s in it for you, figuring out how to make this enrollment strategy a success? Well, it’s about continuing to have incredibly talented students, like you, join the Drexel family. It’s about continuing to raise the bar for your experience and the experience of those Dragons who come after you. It is about developing and sustaining all the resources a great university needs. And, ultimately, it’s about how you will look back with increased pride on your alma mater when you become Drexel alumni and pursue your career and personal goals and do great things.

I want you to beam with Drexel Dragon pride, and nothing less.