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USM touts student-retention rate

HATTIESBURG — The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM’s) work to bolster student retention has resulted in a 91 percent return rate of new students coming back this spring from the fall 2009 semester.

Considered one of the best return rates in school history, it followed a streamlining of university resources dedicated to student success. And as the next academic year approaches, more initiatives designed to help students meet their ultimate goal – graduation – will be implemented.

Composed of representatives from across campus, USM’s Strategic Enrollment Planning Team began work two years ago on a strategy to help students overcome challenges that could impede their quest to obtain a degree, leading them to become discouraged and withdraw from school. The group examined services and programs ranging from academic to recreational and coordinated them into a focused effort to enhance the overall experience offered to students.

Following extensive study, three student service centers at the university — Division of Undergraduate Studies, Office of the First Year Experience and Student Support Services — were joined to form the new Student Success Center (SSC). The SSC leverages the services and resources of these three units to student academic needs, help with financial aid, student health services, residence life and recreational and extra-curricular opportunities, among others.

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