University News

WIU Sees Improved Retention

January 20, 2014

Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL -- Students at Western Illinois University are performing better in the classroom, retention rates have improved, and more students are finishing their first semester in good academic standing, according to Provost and Academic Vice President Ken Hawkinson.

Hawkinson noted that programs such as the Building Connections mentor program, which pairs first year students with a faculty or staff mentor, and a First Year Experience course are having a significant, positive effect on first-year student success. The fall-to-spring retention rate has improved to 89.3 percent (Fall 2013 to Spring 2014), from 82.2 percent in (Fall 2012 to Spring 2013). The percentage of new first-time freshmen in good academic standing or semester honors after their first semester was 78.2 percent in Fall 2013, compared to 70.4 percent in Fall 2012.

"Despite the challenges of fewer high school graduates in the state and greater competition from out-of-state universities, we are thrilled with our Spring 2014 enrollment," he added. "We have cut our fall enrollment deficit in half, while maintaining rigor in the classroom and a commitment to academic excellence. Western's faculty and staff truly care about their students and our support programs are making a difference in the lives of WIU students."

Students who met with their Building Connections faculty or staff mentor were 90.6 percent likely to return for the spring semester. A renewed emphasis on community development within University Housing and Dining Services has resulted in 92.7 percent freshmen returning to the residence halls for the second semester, compared to 79.9 percent in the previous year. Western also recently implemented a new common course experience to help students explore the role of critical thinking, problem solving and information gathering skills to achieve success in college and personal growth.

According to Admissions Director Andy Borst, while the University began the academic year with 100 fewer new freshmen, the increases in retention resulted in the Fall 2013 freshman class now being larger than the Fall 2012 freshman class, comparing year to year.

"As we talk to students about their experiences during the first semester, some of the common themes we hear include how faculty have high expectations in the classroom, but also how much faculty care about student success," Borst added. "We can respond to common concerns, such as adjusting to the increased demands of college-level work, making good use of free time, and finding ways to get involved on campus."

U.S.News and World Reports 2014 rankings show that Western Illinois University out-performs its predicted graduation rates by 8 percent.

For more information about Western's retention rates and student success, contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at (309) 298-3100 or

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing