Slippery Rock students connect to the college experience with SAS®
Pennsylvania's Slippery Rock University has traditionally served first-generation college students with programs in teaching, heath, environment, science, business administration, computer science, humanities, performing arts and nursing. With SAS® Enterprise Intelligence Suite for Education, the university is learning how to better recruit, retain and graduate these students.
Customer Success Video
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Amanda Yale, EdD
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“We had data in so many different places it was hard to get at,’’ says Amanda Yale, EdD, Associate Provost for Enrollment Services for Slippery Rock, whose student population is 8,300. Static print-based reports became outdated quickly. “We had a strong interest in getting enrollment information to the desktops of users across the university. Since we have worked hard to develop a culture of managing enrollment, we were very interested in having up-to-date enrollment reports accessible to all levels of the institution with the information they need at the time they needed it.’’ Simple reports, like calculating yield and conversion rates and quality measures of the first-year class, took a staff member several days to complete. The university couldn’t calculate retention beyond basic cohort data, which was produced once a year. The Enrollment Services staff wanted retention data at a deeper level on department, major, state, county and high school, and they wanted the data updated daily. By segmenting the data, the staff learned how many students from the different majors were being retained and at which critical points in the college experience was the greatest attrition. The staff also wanted to calculate the retention or graduation rate of students transferring from community colleges. “Just doing a comparative enrollment report involved cutting and pasting from two different sets of data and then calculating the changes. It was very labor-intensive,’’ says Carrie Birckbichler, Director of Institutional Research.
With SAS, the university has automated all of its enrollment reports, and everyone from the university including the president, vice presidents, deans, department chairs, and enrollment services and student life directors can access data from their desktops. These leaders can use the information gleaned from the data for driving decisions and creating interventions with new and continuing students. University leaders can get up-to-the-minute data on new enrollment, quality performance measures, graduation rates, retention figures, registration data, orientation participation, and enrollment broken out by gender, race and regions. Department chairs can see how many incoming majors they'll receive and compare graduation rates to other majors. Admission specialists create models of how high school grades and standardized test scores influence retention and graduation rates to zero in on students most likely to succeed. Enrollment services directors can track key points in a student's journey to enrollment and craft automated e-mail messages to encourage admitted students to place a deposit and attend orientation. Orientation staff use the system to understand who is planning to attend the new student orientation programs and set interventions in place to increase participation levels. Advisement staff and faculty use the system to access course placement information and to access registration information on the students.
Retention staff use the system to intervene at critical times, including when midterm and final grades are produced. Once the students arrive on campus, their progress is tracked, and struggling students are automatically flagged so counselors can intervene to help them get back on track. "As soon as midterm grades come out, our retention services team communicates with students whose grade point levels are below a certain level to let them know about tutoring and supplemental instruction and encourage them to visit advisors,'' Yale says. "It's about creating positive relationships with students to help them become more engaged with our institution."
SAS helps the university market more efficiently. For instance, the university has discovered that even if students in eastern and central Pennsylvania apply and are admitted, they aren't likely to attend. This allows the school to focus its marketing budget on regions from which students are likely to enroll. Once students receive an admission offer, faculty at the department level get a list of the students and can create automatic e-mails to encourage enrollment. A key goal of the university is to improve the quality of the students enrolling, so personal communications with those initially admitted helps that goal. It is also working with SAS to build predictive models of what factors create successful students.
SAS helps Slippery Rock track the results of its efforts and share them. “We knew that we were attracting better students, but it was hard to quantify,” Yale said. “With SAS, we can show that average GPA of enrolled students is 3.3 this year compared to 2.99 last year, and the percent of students coming to us from the top 10 percent and top 25 percent of their high school class has increased as well. It was too labor-intensive to do this before SAS, and so it was hard for us to share this exciting news."
Focusing on Growth
Ultimately, Slippery Rock wants to be a wise steward of state financing, private donations and the tuition dollars of its students. "SAS provides us with an effective solution for not just managing enrollment but for improving institutional effectiveness," Yale says.
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.
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Amanda Yale, EdD
Associate Provost for Enrollment Services
Slippery Rock University
Slippery Rock University wants to improve retention, market effectively and help struggling students
The SAS Enterprise Intelligence Suite for Education gathers all the university's information in one location and lets administrators tailor messages to students, whether incoming or on campus, and analyze trends
The university can easily report on its efforts to increase the quality of students enrolling, better manage its marketing dollars and flag struggling students to increase retention
“SAS provides us with an effective solution for not just managing enrollment but for improving institutional effectiveness.’’ ”
Amanda Yale, EdD
Associate Provost for Enrollment Services