Originally Published In
Higher Learning Research Communications
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There continues to be increasing focus on college student retention and persistence. This focus is coming from the United States federal government, accrediting organizations, and from students, parents, and the public. Given the spiraling costs of education and the fact that retention rates have not improved over time, various stakeholders are concerned about the value of a higher education credential. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe the efforts of a for-profit, distance education institution to focus its resources, in an evidence-based manner, on retention and to develop a culture of retention and persistence throughout the institution. The literature review and analysis of internal initiatives demonstrated that (a) institutions must make a commitment to retention, include retention efforts as part of its strategic plan, and provide resources to support retention efforts; (b) mastery of knowledge of the research on retention and persistence is critical for designing evidence-based interventions; and (c) institutions should identify, develop, and implement pilot projects aimed at improving student progress and share results to help stimulate development of best practices throughout higher education.