Raising The Bar Initiative Seeking To Confront College Attrition In NH

Sabrina Fahy, Copy Editor

Anne Harrington, Dean of Freshmen and Director of Academic Advisement, presented to faculty and administration on Thursday, September 26, Saint Anselm College’s plan to participate in the Raising the Bar initiative.

The project focuses on encouraging college persistence and completion in Manchester postsecondary institutions. In order to do so, five higher education institutions in Manchester (now six with Saint Anselm’s recent involvement) have formed a task force to address the problem of college attrition both at an institutional, regional, and state-wide level. In addition to Saint A’s, the other institutions include Manchester Community College, SNHU, UNH Manchester, NHIA, and Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. This project is funded through a Campus Compact grant.

The September 26 presentation focused on the context for the entire research project, a brief discussion of the findings from the research conducted, and a discussion of involvement in the task force and its specific areas.

A report for the Raising the Bar in Manchester Task Force identified the methodology behind the project and the several components of the research study including “an overview of national trends in college completion, an overview of local trends in New Hampshire that may affect college completion, a literature review of college completion literature with a focus on college readiness and financial literacy, and a qualitative analysis resulting from five interviews with higher education representatives from each of the institutions involved with the Raising the Bar in Manchester initiative.”

The initial step in Saint Anselm’s involvement would consist of interviews with various members of academic and student affairs regarding the college’s efforts to promote persistence. The results of these interviews will be added to a report along with the findings from the other participating institutions.

Once the first step is complete, Saint Anselm would then form an institutional task force, which would then join the existing larger task force, consisting of faculty and administrators at other institutions. Together, the task force will implement broader initiatives for Manchester schools. These initiatives, as identified by Harrington, are “creating institutional and community financial literacy programming; coordinating college readiness testing for 10th graders in Manchester schools; strategizing ways to continue cross institutional discussions regarding changing demographics in Manchester and the impact on future practices and programming, making Manchester a hub for academic energy and youth, among others; and making connections with other state wide organizations.”

The establishment of the Raising the Bar in Manchester initiative was a response to both national trends and a call to action made by President Obama, in which he issued postsecondary institutions to dramatically increase their college persistence and completion rates so that the nation will have the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.