BSU retention numbers draw national recognition

Over the past few years, Boise State University has launched several new programs designed to keep new students in school.

The school’s retention numbers are increasing — and on Thursday, it earned BSU a nomination for a national award.

BSU is one of five finalists for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities award honoring innovative student retention efforts.

In a news release Thursday, BSU listed several recent initiatives designed to keep students in school. Over the past few years, BSU has revamped its core mathematics courses, redesigned its remedial English and English placement exams and launched a Learning Assistant Program to support new students.

“Our first-year retention rate is now up to somewhere between 78 percent and 80 percent, depending on how you count. And it’s amazing when you stop and think, that was 60 percent a few years ago,” BSU President Bob Kustra said during his state of the university address last week.

Student retention isn’t just a point of emphasis on college campuses. It’s a big issue at the state level, as Idaho hopes to improve its lackluster college completion rates. The state’s political, education and business leaders hope to see 60 percent of Idaho’s 25- to 34-year-olds hold some form of a postsecondary degree. This has been a state goal since 2010, but a gubernatorial task force on higher education has abandoned the state’s original 2020 target date.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities will make its award in November.