When #winning Becomes a #fail

In preparation for the eduGuru Conference next week, I’ve been delving deeper into yield, retention and graduation rate research. Not only was I taking a break from the Charlie Sheen madness and filling in my Final Four bracket, but I also have a sick and twisted burning interest in the subject matter.

I stumbled across research on the graduation rates for NCAA basketball players.  The good news? Five of the sixty-eight schools graduate 100% of their players. The bad, is much worse: University of Arizona graduated one out of every five and several schools failed to graduate more than  44%. Ouch.

Looking at the graduation rates of several of the competition - UConn, Temple, Michigan, Missouri, etc. all are under 45%. This begs the question: why?

Sure, sure. There’s probably the issue of sport over academics. Students are recruited and attend due to their atheltic skills, not academic prowess. But shouldn’t they equal out? Are we graduating students from these programs ready to “compete in today’s global economy”? Or are we failing them in more ways than one by touting sport as the primary reason for them to attend a prestigious university?

This can only be made worse as the economy and the high price of education remain: we teach students that they must capitalize on the talent they have, and we become lazy in fostering learning. Couple this with the changing demographic trend in the United States, the increase in awareness of and research for college’s performance (retention/graduation rates and employment of grads), the still growing achievement gap and higher ed may have an even ruder awakening on the horizon than originally thought.

How is your institution handling retention efforts and the changing demographics? Are there strategic plans in place? Does everyone work together or are implementations segmented? Is academic rigor a constant emphasis?