Our Thoughts On Agriculture Today.
Posted by Edward Romero on September 30th, 2010
Domain: Educational Development
This week we are going to talk about the Educational Development domain found in the Undergraduate Recruiting and Educational Pipeline (UREP) model. Last week I talked about the first domain, Outreach and Recruitment which is meant as the first step in reaching out to students to help them begin the navigation process into higher education while studying agriculture or a related field.
The Educational Development domain is divided into two categories, the first is Retention and the second is Student Development. Each category functions interdependent from the other but both are critical to the success of the student’s college completion regardless of whether they are attending a 2-year college or 4-year university.
Matriculation is the step that occurs after recruitment but before retention in the Educational Development domain. See the image above. Students who apply AND enroll into a college or university are said to have matriculated. Show up. Register for courses.
Once students have enrolled onto a campus the Educational Development domain takes over and is critical in two areas, retention and student development. Retention is critical for many reasons and can vary greatly from student to student.
Retention definitions can vary from school to school or program to program. It’s important that you determine how you define retention for your program prior to developing your recruiting plan. Most universities will consider 6-year or 4-year persistency (how long they stayed) numbers at a university. Two-year colleges may look at 3-year or 2-year time-frames to determine program completion.
This post will not delve into the differences in retention strategies, but without getting too detailed, retention can deal with finances, academics, personal issues, etc. In short retention is an intervention that will help you keep the students in your programs who are struggling and who want to be there.
Ask yourself this question: What is the problem you are trying to solve to help the student stay in school?
This requires that you ask a lot of questions to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes it takes time and lots of patience.
Last week I mentioned that you should consider Outreach first before recruiting.
Helping students understand the relevance of how agricultural careers are significant to their success in the Outreach/Recruiting domain helps students stay motivated to finish their program when they run into bumps along the way. Otherwise, if students do not see the importance of how their college major will be of benefit to them in the future, often, students give up and try a different major. This affects your matriculation numbers, which in turn affects your persistency numbers. It’s a domino effect.
In short, it does no good to go out and recruit more students if you can’t keep the students you have in your program. After all, we are not even considering time, energy, and resources (financial or otherwise) it took to recruit the individual student. Good recruiters understand this concept.
The second category of the Educational Development domain is Student Development. Regardless of whether the student is attending a university or two-year program, Student Development is pretty much the same concept. This category is broad but is rather simple. Basically, any type of activity that can provide the student an opportunity to build their skill set will fall into this category.
Fundamentally, it is programming that helps the student further develop emotionally, socially, and/or intellectually in a college environment. It can also include leadership or work experience such as work-study, study abroad, internships, and cooperative work agreements.
Often times, Retention is a beneficiary of effective Student Development opportunities. Research has shown that students involved in extra-curricular activities – in moderation – are more apt to stay in school and also do better in school. Hence, retention numbers improve, students have a better college experience, and are more fulfilled when they graduate and prepare for their professional career.
Next week we will tackle the last of the three domains, Professional Development in the UREP model. It is important to note that the Student Development category and the Professional Development domain are interdependent, meaning; they can function alone but work best when they work in tandem. We will explore this a little more within the coming days.
Until next time…Adios!
About the Author: Dr. Edward W. Romero is founder and manager of AgForLife, LLC. He is passionate about recruiting more students into agriculture and believes the agriculture industry offers awesome opportunities for young people. You can follow him via AgForLife, LLC on Facebook or Twitter.