Higher Ed
The Laws of Attraction and Retention

We've all heard the term "attraction and retention" in the context of companies and their hiring practices. These are typically things that companies offer to their employees in order to attract new talent as well as retain existing employees to keep them engaged and happy. A few things that come to mind are some of the over-the-top office perks including an in-office masseuse, nonstop cold brew flowing from the pantry kegerator, or a multistory slide through the middle of the office.  The same types of strategies apply in a higher ed setting, although they look quite different. 

Undergraduate retention is an institution of higher education’s ability to retain a student from admission until graduation. For the last one hundred years, the average national undergraduate graduation rate has hovered around fifty percent, meaning that only half of the high school graduates entering institutions of higher education in the United States go on to graduate. The earliest studies of undergraduate retention in the United States occurred in the 1930s and focused on what was referred to at the time as "student mortality": the failure of students to graduate. It was not until the 1960s when multiple publications such as Gekoski and Schwartz’s “Student Mortality and Related Factors” in 1961 in the Journal of Educational Research; Panos and Astin’s article “Attrition Among College Students" in 1968; and Feldman and Newcomb’s book The Impact of College on Students in 1969 that the study of undergraduate retention began to take shape.

The publication of Vincent Tinto’s landmark student integration model (see image below) in 1975 demarks the start of the current, national dialogue on undergraduate retention. The model theorizes that students who socially integrate into the campus community increase their commitment to the institution and are more likely to graduate. While Tinto’s model has been supported, rebutted and revised over the last 40 years, it has significantly influenced how researchers and practitioners view undergraduate retention and graduation rates. Tinto’s seminal theory created a base from which thousands of studies have proliferated in the ensuing years making undergraduate retention one of the most widely studied areas of higher education today.

Tinto’s student integration model has changed over the course of the 46 years from when it was originally introduced.  Most notably, more recent versions have included more in-depth variables surrounding motivation, including goal commitment.  Most practical approaches to the study of undergraduate retention involve studying successful students. Studying students who have continued through to graduation is thought to help illuminate new aspects of successful student experiences which can in turn be applied to supporting all students and lead to an increase in retention rates. 

Interested in reading more? To learn more about attraction and retention in a higher education setting, check out this ebook specifically written for higher ed institutions outlining strategies and best practices to improve student retention.

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer season here in New England, and with it comes a focus on being outdoors. As the CDC guidelines towards COVID-19 have changed recently, individual states have adjusted their policies and protocols as well. As states open up with fewer restrictions on activities, IIDA NE has taken all of these factors into consideration, and we are excited to be able to offer several opportunities for in-person events this summer season. 

  • July 15: Hartford Libations After Hibernation Trivia Night in Hartford, CT
  • July 19: Providence Community Farm Harvest Night in Cumberland, RI
  • August 19: 18th Annual Croquet Tournament in Newport, RI
  • September 16: Hartford Baggos & Brews in Hartford, CT

These events may look and feel a little different this year due to COVID, and each event’s webpage will share information on the safety measures that will be in place for each event. IIDA NE is committed to the health and safety of our members and our community and will continue to monitor and follow local and federal guidelines as they are released. If you are comfortable with in-person attendance, I hope you will join us at one of these events.

We plan to continue virtual programming throughout 2021 for our other offerings such as Continuing Education and Professional Development opportunities as we have found the virtual format allows more access across our membership regardless of location. We look forward to being able to incorporate some in person events while also continuing to offer some virtual events. Please be sure to check out our Chapter’s Event Calendar and see each event’s page for the full details.

Our Board of Directors looks forward to being able to enjoy the outdoors together again with you at your comfort level!

Be Well & Stay Healthy,

Nico Flannery-Pitcher, IIDA, EDAC
President, IIDA NE Chapter


 Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming virtual events offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!


Did you know roughly 13.3 million students attend public 2- and 4- year colleges, while only 4.6 million students attend private 4 year colleges?


Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2021!

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