Texas A&M University–Central Texas exclusively offers junior and senior level coursework at the undergraduate level. Students working towards finishing a bachelor’s degree comprise about 81% of their student population while the remaining 19% are pursuing graduate degrees. With this focus on upperclassmen, A&M University–Central Texas graduates a larger than average proportion of their student body each year. With the possibility of 26% of the current student enrollment graduating each year, the stakes are higher for keeping additional student enrollments coming in.
A&M University-Central Texas serves a multitude of students and has become a natural fit for students beyond the “traditional” student path. Understanding the unique challenges these students tend to face these students are typically working full time jobs, and many of them are also raising children. As a non traditional student the idea of returning to school can be daunting.
The challenges facing A&M University-Central Texas are familiar across institutions with a variety of other emphases. They have experienced multiple semesters of flat enrollment, leaving them to pursue opportunities to turn around the trend, being a relatively small institution with limited staff capacity and financial resources to pursue these students systematically and strategically, they knew they would need to find a way to connect with stopped out students that was unconventional.
Here enters ReUp. ReUp and A&M University-Central Texas produced results immediately upon launch in late spring of 2019. From there enrollment kept increasing term-over-term, with Fall 2020 enrollment more than doubling from a year earlier. Clifton Jones, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management described the value of this information:
“Early on in the process, even before we started recovering students, I think one of the benefits was the initial information from ReUp after they first started making contact with students. We started learning what they were saying about why they stopped out, what were the challenges they were facing. This got us looking at life balance, academic preparedness, a connectedness to campus, finances – all those which are pretty common, but we got more detail about, ‘Oh, this student had this challenge’ and this might be a little bit more nuanced than what we would get just from them filling out a drop card or the information we collect internally.”
However the impact ReUp has extends beyond students returning. As ReUp works with students navigating the re-enrollment process, information is shared back with the school about common obstacles, trends, and why the students left in the first place, being able to identify the students needs and what is truly motivating them in their day to day lives. Through the Network, students who stopped out from an institution and are now looking for a degree program or modality not offered by their original college or university, can be connected to another ReUp Network institution, and still receive ReUp coaching to guide them through the journey. Jones remarked, “We joined the ReUp Network, and are looking forward to how that can continue to contribute to our growth.”
“For a small institution like us, trying to recover stopped out students could be very costly. ReUp helped us address a resource limitation issue. It’s a win-win situation. The work begins to recover these students without having costs until they have successfully been recovered. This meant we actually grew our capacity to serve students, during a budget cut, without having to bring on more staff members.”