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REF NO.: 144

SUBJECT: Memorial University program encourages students to return to their studies

DATE: April 14

The Office of the Registrar at Memorial University has initiated a program that is aimed at encouraging students to return to their university studies.

The stop-out return project, as it is known, identifies students who have completed at least 90 credit hours but have stopped their studies at Memorial. The Registrar's Office contacts these students and encourages them to return and complete their degrees, many of which require 120 credit hours. Donna Ball, assistant registrar, said that, over the past four or five years, staff in the Registrar's Office noticed that each semester registration of students in the 90-plus credits category was decreasing.

"We wondered how many of them would be leaving the university," she explained. "It seemed sad to us that you'd get that far along in your program and not continue."

In the summer of 2001, the office selected a group of students in that category who had not attended Memorial for over a year. They contacted about 200 former students by phone and sent letters to another 1700-1800. Approximately 80 of the students returned to university in the fall of 2001 or winter of 2002.

"What we found was those students were absolutely thrilled that the university contacted them," said Ms. Ball. The results of that pilot encouraged the Registrar's Office to expand the program.

Last fall, the Registrar's Office launched a program for students who had earned credits at Grenfell College but who hadn't attended for at least a year. In St. John's it went after the 90-plus students again, but this time with a tailored approach suited for the individual student based on their program of study.

"Our success this year has been much greater," said Ms. Ball. "We had 78 students come back in the fall semester; 32 of those students continued on into the winter semester and 10 students have applied to graduate." The Registrar's Office is surveying these grads to see if the stop-out program was responsible for their return. Another 68 returned for winter semester and another 11 have applied to come back in the spring or fall of 2003.

Ms. Ball said the Registrar's Office will continue to approach students who have stopped attending Memorial, and she hopes to increase the office's programs down the road to help convince students nearing graduation to stick it out. "We've heard nothing but positive comments from students."

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