WIU implements new mentoring program to combat declining student - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

WIU implements new mentoring program to combat declining student retention rate


More than a third of Western Illinois University's freshman last year didn't come back for their sophomore year.

Officials are now working to change that statistic.

An important part of a college experience for many students is making new friends.

But you can walk up to just about any student on WIU's campus and they'll tell you they made friends they ended up never seeing again.

"A lot of my friends didn't come back because it's like really far from home and they were really homesick,' said  Sarah Hopkins.

'They found a better school or they didn't like the environment,' said Jasmine Crawford.

'I also had a friend who just could not keep his grades up and his parents wouldn't pay for it anymore," said Richard Houzenga.

Dr. Gary Biller, WIU's Vice President for student services says another reason for the decline in student retention is over half of last year's freshman were first generation college students, meaning neither of their parents went to college.

To help bring students back, the school implemented "Building connections," a new mentoring program.

Dr. Biller says the school decided to start the building connections program to keep freshman from walking out these doors permanently.

"They'll talk about how to schedule your time and how to study and help them find various offices on campus that they may not know where they are," said Dr. Biller.;

Students are mentored by 220 members of WIU's faculty and staff who volunteer their time to help incoming freshman.

Something Richard Houzenga, a junior at WIU, says should help encourage students.

"It's probably a good thing that they start enforcing it more it will keep them on track," said Houzenga.

Dr. Biller says getting students involved is key in making sure their college experience is a good one.

"It's just those kind of transition issues that we hope will help the students get connected to the services and the people and the things that they need to be successful at Western Illinois University," said Houzenga.

Parents can also do their part to keep their child from dropping out if he or she is feeling a bit homesick.

Some helpful tips: write them a letter or send them a care package in the mail. Doing these simple things may help them feel a bit more comfortable in a new environment.


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