UW-L Freshman Initiative

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UW-La Crosse is one of 44 universities across the country selected to participate in a new program designed to keep freshmen students from dropping out. Fox 25/48’s Erin O’Brien explains why UW-L was chosen for the project.

Eighty-five percent of first year students at UW-La Crosse return for their second year. The university says it’s a critical time when undergraduate schools face their highest dropout rates.

“The student who makes that leap between their first year and their second year is more likely to stay in throughout college. And that’s a good thing for our society, we want students to be graduated, we want them to be good citizens.”

And they hope to improve their retention and graduation rates by participating in the new initiative called “reimagining the first year of college”. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities chose UW-L to be involved for their leadership, size, and existing first year programs.

“We find that some students come and they just don’t get really engaged with their coursework so they say well maybe college isn’t for me. And we do it pretty well right now but we could always do it better.”

The university says a retention rate of 85 percent is pretty good, but one group they do want to focus on is low income students. They say those students have a retention rate of 77 percent.

Not only was UW-La Crosse chosen from hundreds to participate in the program, but a UW-L professor was chosen to be one of two primary directors of the national initiative. She’ll take a two year leave to lead the project in Washington D.C.

“Retention is a problem. It’s going to continue to be a problem and likely get worse unless we do something to combat it.”

The program will last three years, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities hopes to expand it from the initial 44 to 420 schools nationwide.

In La Crosse, Erin O’Brien, FOX 25-48 News at 9.

The program will be implemented this fall for incoming first year students.

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