Funding Will Help UNCW Prevent “Stop-Outs”

Monday, November 28, 2016

UNCW has received $33,000 to increase efforts to identify and prevent “stop-outs,” students who fail to register for classes after attending for several semesters. The proposal, funded by University of North Carolina General Administration, will be used to develop support programs for students who have attempted at least 60 college credits and who are at risk of stopping out.

“This university has a strong support system to help incoming freshmen, but we want to assist all students who face obstacles that may prevent them from completing their education,” said UNCW Provost Marilyn Sheerer. “Our aim is to develop a similar program to help sophomores, juniors and seniors who are considering leaving college because of financial, personal or job-related concerns.”

The effort will be coordinated under Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Paul Townend, who will work with deans, department chairs and professional advisers to build a program to strengthen advising channels for upper-level students. The components will include check-ins with students who have not signed up for classes by two weeks after their assigned registration date. Often there are factors that UNCW counselors or faculty can help with, such as assistance obtaining financial aid, offering academic advice, or providing information about resources that may make it possible for students to meet their personal obligations while still remaining in school.

North Carolina’s focus on preventing stop-outs is part of the overall effort to increase graduation rates. The first priority outlined in UNCW’s 2016-21 Strategic Plan, Giving Flight to Imagination, emphasizes student retention and graduation success as critical components of the university’s educational programs.

“We have one of the highest graduation rates in the UNC system, but I think we can do even better here,” Townend said. “By having a process in place to check in with these students, we may be able to help them locate the resources or information they need to continue their education.”

The recent funding will be used to offer stipends to faculty members and advisers who take on additional advising duties related to the program. Although the model will apply to UNCW, the goal of the GA-driven initiative is to identify stop-out prevention tools that can be used throughout the UNC system.

-- Tricia Vance