Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some Mid-Year Thoughts on RAPP XXVI

At the end of each quarter, the facilitators and I spend time looking at feedback from our current RAPP members and some of the numbers I like to play with. This year I found something exciting in our retention rates that I want to reflect on openly.

Retention rates in RAPP are something I have limited data on. We know some limited numbers on RAPP XVIII through XXII and more thorough information on RAPP XXIII through now.

There are three numbers we keep track of nowadays:
  • Acceptance - How many people we invite to join RAPP.
  • Commitment - How many people continue after the second meeting (meaning, they could come to the first two meetings to try us out and withdraw without impact).
  • Completion - How many people participate all the way through to the end of the schoolyear.
I calculate retention by dividing the commitment number by the completion number.  More explanation on the process can be found in this previous post.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of 80% retention.  I've been told and read repeatedly that 80% retention is a solid amount for a year-long co-curricular program in higher education.

Since I became involved in RAPP, each year our greatest amount of withdrawals (people who decide they can no longer participate in RAPP) happens in late fall quarter through winter quarter.  I've stopped looking at retention at the end of fall quarter because I've learned it's not predictive of final retention.  I took some time this week to look at it, though, knowing that the bulk of withdrawals are usually done by the end of winter quarter (though we usually lose a couple more people in spring).

RAPP XXVI's current retention rate is 94%!

Including two people who withdrew from RAPP at/before the first meeting to allow people from the waiting list to get into the current year, we accepted 73 students into RAPP XXVI.  Of these, 68 committed to the program.  We still have 64 of them involved!

I don't really know why this is as it is at this point. I'm going to throw out a few ideas I'm starting with:
  • We have an amazing group of committed individuals!  During their interviews, we explored issues of commitment and group development and why they wanted to be in RAPP. To a tee, folks were able to give well thought answers, demonstrating an understanding of what they were getting into and what it took to be successful.
  • We have an amazing team of Peer Leaders! Amber, Brice, Jojo, Marjorie, and Rachel have been doing amazing work supporting RAPP XXVI members - they challenge them to think in new ways, they support them through the difficult times, and they bring a lot of fun and friendliness.
  •  We have an amazing team of facilitators!  Our Public Ally Kinsey has worked hard at developing into a facilitator and has provided an immense amount of administrative support, further enhancing our between-meetings contact with RAPP members.  Our intern Kimmins has continued to develop their facilitation and peer education skills and has worked hard to connect our group to campus events and opportunities.
  • Again, we have an amazing group of committed individuals! People have been doing their best to demonstrate commitment through attendance and engagement. Communication has been key, with folks communicating clearly why they're there and why they're not when they're not.
  • We're a bit exclusive! We accepted 73 people - which in the end left several people still on a waiting list to get in. For me, this seems like it's a bit of incentive to make sure that I demonstrate my commitment - I know that my spot was wanted by someone who didn't get the opportunity to participate.
We've got another quarter ahead - one that can be the most difficult in many ways.  Trust that RAPP XXVI is a rockin' awesome group, though!
A chunk of RAPP XXVI Wednesday braving the cold at winter retreat!

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