The University of Mary Washington Wins with Better Data and Support from the National Student Clearinghouse
By Rita Dunston, Registrar, University of Mary Washington
Former Major League Baseball Manager, Tommy Lasorda, used to say, “There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”
In 2011, the University of Mary Washington (UMW), which has approximately 4,000 students enrolled, was watching things happen.
At the time, we did not have to do a lot to recruit students to UMW. We are a small, beautiful institution located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which is halfway between Richmond and Washington, D.C. We recruited. Students enrolled, attended, stayed and graduated.
Then, all of a sudden, things started changing for us. Enrollments declined. The administration and staff needed to do more with less, and reallocate staff resources. We had to go from watching things happen to making things happen.
And things started happening on March 7, 2011, when I received a call from the Clearinghouse’s Paul Taylor.
At that time, UMW only used the Clearinghouse for Enrollment Reporting. Paul talked to me about DegreeVerify, which eliminates the work involved with degree verification requests – at no cost. With DegreeVerify, staff were able to perform other duties. And that really started our relationship, as far as making things happen, instead of watching things happen.
In the summer of 2012, Paul called again to discuss using StudentTracker® to help UMW discover where over the last several years, 700 out of 3,739 first-time students who did not return to our campus, went. By combining StudentTracker data with the university’s own information, we discovered the primary reason students didn’t return was because of financial difficulties. To find out more, the university sent out surveys and called several students to learn why they left. Some transfers were because of homesickness, which resulted in students going home and attending their local community college. Other students experienced mental or physical illnesses that required support from their family and community.
This information drove the university to offer more scholarships to address students’ financial needs, as well as increase counseling services for students who needed extra support. UMW also began to contact students who had transferred to a community college and invite them to return to the university to complete their bachelor’s degree.
In spring 2013, Paul again called me, this time about UMW using eTranscripts. I knew the time, commitment, and value the Clearinghouse invests to create its services so I felt comfortable moving forward with electronic transcripts. We went live and the students responded to the functionality and quality of the service. Not only did eTranscripts solve our students’ desire for 24/7 self-service, but it also helped us improve efficiency and maximize staff resources.
Once we heard about the availability of the new StudentTracker Premium Service, UMW signed up to access these new tools and capabilities to help us better understand and serve students, and meet our goals. This is another example of the Clearinghouse listening and responding for 25 years to relieve higher education’s administrative burdens and costs, and improve student outcomes.
Today, students want to request a transcript and get it fast. They want to apply for a job and have their degrees verified in minutes. They want these services immediately. More than ever, students are on a journey and so are we.
The University of Mary Washington is glad to be on the journey with the Clearinghouse to make things happen!
“We had to go from watching things happen to making things happen. And things started happening on March 7, 2011, when I received a call from the Clearinghouse’s Paul Taylor.”
University of Mary Washington