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Wayne State Welcomes New Freshmen, Plans to Ensure Their Success


WAYNE, Neb. (Aug. 21, 2008) – The new freshman class at Wayne State marks the fourth consecutive year, and the fifth out of the past seven years, of enrollment growth at the college. During this same period of increases in the number of first-time freshmen, the college also has increased its retention rate from 67 percent to 75 percent, according to the most recent available data.


Other statistics about the new freshman class:


  • 47 percent are male; 53 percent female
  • 55 percent are first-generation students
  • The average ACT score is 21.5, which is higher than the national average
  • 66 percent graduated high school with a GPA of more than 3.0
  • 57 percent come from the top half of their graduating class; 27 percent from the top quarter; and 9 percent from the top tenth
  • Douglas County leads counties of origin, followed by Madison, Dodge, Sarpy, Holt, Woodbury (Iowa) and Wayne.


The Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education (CCPE) reported in August that Nebraska high school students continue to improve their ACT scores while outpacing the national average composite score. The state’s students averaged 22.1 in 2008 while the national average was 21.1.


CCPE also reported that according to ACT, only 27 percent of ACT-tested Nebraska high school graduates are “sufficiently prepared to succeed in all four common areas of entry level college coursework (algebra, biology, English and social science).” Wayne State takes seriously the challenges faced by some of our students, especially since the college maintains its mission of access through open enrollment admissions policies.


Despite the ACT’s dire warnings about Nebraska students’ preparation for college, Wayne State proudly points to a retention rate of 75 percent. Such a high rate does not happen by accident. The college has several programs and outreach systems designed to keep students on track and successful at Wayne State.


One of the key factors in retention and improved graduation rates is the STRIDE/TRIO program at Wayne State. The federally funded program provides individual attention, with each STRIDE student welcomed by a member of the professional staff who will serve as that student's advisor. The student and the advisor create a plan for academic success that includes an assessment of the student's skills and abilities, individualized instruction (when needed) in math and writing, and frequent scheduled appointments to monitor ongoing progress.


STRIDE also fosters success through several academic support mechanisms: academic advising and course selection guidance; succeeding in College course; one-on-one peer tutoring; writing skills professional tutoring; math and science professional tutoring; individual study skills assistance; time management and organization; note taking; study techniques; and test-taking strategies.


Wayne State’s Learning Center provides additional resources for students not in the STRIDE program. These include: Succeeding in College, a reading and study skills class that about one-half of the freshman class elects to take; Choosing Academic Success, a one-credit class for probationary students; and additional one-credit courses in vocabulary development and speed reading.


Peer tutoring increasingly plays a significant role in ensuring student success. WSC’s peer tutoring program helps students gain confidence in their test taking abilities by reinforcing the important points of reading material, lectures, or labs. Discussing difficult material with a tutor can make the entire course more understandable.


The Early Alert Program provides assistance to students experiencing academic difficulties. The program is designed to aid in the early detection of students who are doing poorly in class, chronically absent from class, or having other kinds of problems that affect academic performance. An additional goal of the program is to improve communication among faculty, students, and their advisors.


Faculty awareness of potential student problems constitutes the backbone of the Early Alert Program. Any faculty member who is concerned about a student's failure to attend classes and /or a student's poor performance in class is encouraged to refer that student immediately to the Learning Center. Students identified by instructors early in the semester can be helped; advisors contacted before mid-term can assist students in making more informed judgments about academic plans.


Upon receipt of the student referral, the Learning Center contacts the student via phone or letter within 24 to 48 hours to discuss the academic concern and look for solutions. The advisor is notified and has the option of also contacting the student to discuss the concern.


Wayne State’s multifaceted approach to student retention and success makes a solid difference for our students. It also helps keep the college’s retention rate on par with or above our peer institutions, some of whom are quite selective in their admissions policies.



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