Student Life Cycle Management at Drexel
You are probably aware of Drexel’s new emphasis on Student Lifecycle Management (SLM), a recruitment-through-graduation approach to building and supporting an outstanding undergraduate student body. I want to briefly describe what SLM means for Drexel and update you on how the initiative is progressing.
The Rationale for SLM
Universities are facing increased competition while dealing with new questions about the value of a degree. It is critical, therefore, that our students understand the value of the Drexel experience and receive the support they need to succeed. The SLM initiative is designed to ensure that we attract students who best fit the University, offer them quality programs and an engaging experience, address their affordability concerns and provide them with the ongoing support they need to successfully progress and graduate.
Student retention is Drexel’s greatest challenge, and SLM will help us close the retention gap. I’m confident we can outperform our competitors by making Drexel the best choice at precisely the times when a student decides where to attend college and whether or not to stay.
Our SLM initiative has five primary goals:
- To improve graduation rates (from 68 to 80 percent by 2019)
- To increase “right fit” applications and thereby increase yield, or the percentage of admitted students who enroll at Drexel
- To maintain or improve student preparedness and ability
- To increase retention by ensuring that we continue to enable student success
- To protect and eventually grow the net tuition revenue on which our operations depend
Under SLM, we are seeking to recruit highly qualified classes and appropriately support them through a combination of merit- and need-based financial aid and improved student services. This will result in higher quality indicators, lower acceptance rates, higher yields and improved retention and graduation rates.
Our previous volume-based enrollment strategy allowed us to rapidly increase our undergraduate population; now that we have achieved those growth objectives we must plan for the next phase of Drexel’s evolution. We have redesigned our recruitment and selection process to better identify students who are a strong academic fit for Drexel. This increasingly holistic approach will attract and admit students who are most likely to succeed here.
Our colleges and schools now play a central role in admissions, providing expert insight into which applicants are most likely to succeed in their specific degree programs. New selection committees specific to each college have already met and will continue to meet throughout the admissions cycle. The feedback from deans and associate deans who have participated in the process has been extremely encouraging.
Financial aid is critically important to attracting and retaining students, especially as we focus on “best fit” students. We must significantly increase need-based aid to make a Drexel education more affordable, while maintaining merit aid for the most academically talented students. Our next fundraising campaign will focus on raising money for undergraduate scholarships and student aid. We are also working to make sure that our aid policies support students throughout their degree program.
Drexel is investing in a number of initiatives supporting student success. These include enhanced academic advising, new technology to assist advisors in assessing student progress, new mentoring opportunities and the elimination of administrative red tape. The launch of Drexel Central and the switch from annual to quarterly billing are two examples of our commitment to serving students and families more effectively and creating a more positive student experience.
A University-wide Priority
More than 100 faculty and professional staff have been working closely with Huron Consulting to implement the components of SLM. Ten committees are addressing issues from student selection to registration to advising and more. I am grateful for the time and effort of those colleagues.
The overarching goal of SLM is to provide a better experience for our students, generate increased revenues to be reinvested into our academic programs and align Drexel with our peers in terms of retention and graduation rates. Working as a community, we will position Drexel as a leader in the rapidly changing higher education environment.
John A. Fry