VC maintained student retention rate in Spring 2020 despite COVID-19

WileyMatt (2) Matt Wiley

Thanks to proactive measures to transition students and faculty to online learning and teaching, Victoria College was able to maintain a high student retention rate for the Spring 2020 semester.

Victoria College had reported a retention rate of around 89 percent in each of its previous seven spring semesters. Despite closure of all its locations for two months during the Spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VC maintained a retention rate of 89 percent.

“As always, our students met this challenge head-on, supported by our amazing employees and board,” said VC President David Hinds. “One of my fears moving to remote learning was reduced human connection, because we know engaged students learn better. From our faculty, to our coaches and tutors, to our student services staff, VC employees committed to ensuring our students stayed connected. It clearly worked.”

VC measures the student retention rate as the percentage of filled classroom seats reported to the state that still had a student sitting in that seat at the end of the semester.

“Students often face life events that contribute to their decision to drop classes,” said Matt Wiley, VC director of institutional effectiveness, research and assessment. “For this retention rate, regardless of whether it was a state-recognized ‘good cause’ drop, we counted any drop as a drop. We wanted to understand how instruction and student services were connecting to our students over time and through COVID-19.”

Victoria College began preparing strategies for its students to complete the Spring 2020 semester remotely and employees to work from home long before the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the Crossroads area. VC also disbursed $840,453 to more than 400 students affected by the pandemic from funds received through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economy Security (CARES) Act.

“Despite COVID-19, VC ensured students had the ability to stay and complete,” said Cindy Buchholz, VC’s vice president for instruction. “This happened in a lot of ways, from faculty using video conferencing for remote teaching, to student services going through the same training to find new ways to connect with students. Students also utilized curbside access to our food pantry. Coaches and tutors continually reached out to students via the internet, and the VC Library made adjustments to serve the students.”

VC student Laycee Guerrero of Yorktown said she took advantage of VC’s support services to finish the semester.

“The instructors did a great job of coping with all of the challenges they had to go through to get us through the semester,” Guerrero said. “I was also able to utilize the Tutoring Center. I had an American Literature class, and I didn’t realize how much writing was required. The Tutoring Center really helped me a lot.”