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This item originally appeared in the April 14, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

By VALERIE METREJEAN

Staff Writer

Improved retention rates brought Wendy Cole, a reporter from Time magazine, to Tech's campus April 5-6.

"Cole was drawn to Tech for the story when she came upon a national study that featured the university's greatly improved graduation rate," Pamela Ford, the dean of enrollment management, said.

Ford said while Cole was here she interviewed several groups of students to find out why they thought Tech had such a high retention rate.

"I think she was expecting to find a program or single thing that is the reason for the graduation rates, but it really is a combination of many different things," Ford said.

Ford said orientation student leaders, athletes and Student Government Association members were among the students interviewed who were able to provide Cole with several reasons for the high numbers.

"She was impressed that we didn't have to set up appointments with our advisers," Kirk Sweeny, a junior professional aviation major, said. "I think it is more of a southern thing but we can talk to them about anything, not just school things."

Jesse Petrus, an orientation student leader and a sophomore accounting major, said he thought having many advisers who graduated from Tech helps them relate to the students.

Ford said Kimberly Ludwig, SGA president and senior business management and entrepreneurship major, caught Cole's eye with her own story about advisers and campus involvement.

"I have changed my major six times and had five advisers," Ludwig said. Ludwig said by the sixth change she requested to keep the same adviser.

"I didn't get involved the first two years of school at Tech," Ludwig said. "My freshman year I never would have thought that I would be [SGA president]."

Sweeny said they discussed several reasons Tech keeps students, besides good relationships with the faculty and administration.

"Many students mentioned that there are so many ways to find a niche because Tech has a little of everything," Sweeny said.

Sweeny said it is easier to become involved in the community because Tech is a community.

"When you are involved, you want to stay," Sweeny said.

Petrus said he agreed that people who get involved are more prone to stay.

"The people that do leave usually leave because they stay in their rooms and do not get involved," said Petrus.

As an orientation leader, Petrus was also asked about a new program that Tech is incorporating into freshman orientation.

"This year's fall freshmen were the first to fill out the in-depth survey," Petrus said. "The surveys asked questions about family background and parent's college choices."

Petrus said the surveys were shown to advisers and university seminar teachers to give a better background to know what kind of students they are working with.

Ford said by the end of the visit, Cole had a better understanding that there were many things that contributed to students staying at Tech rather than just one.

"Cole was really impressed with the campus and the people," Ford said.

"Tech students should be proud of the recognition by Time magazine."

Ford said Tech should see the story sometime in May.


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