FBC Radio Program Enhances Retention Effort

Aug 15th, 2006 | By | Category: 18-1: The Winding Road to Student Success, Tribal College News

TALKING RETENTION. KGVA radio announcer Brian Hammett (right) asked FBC student Craig Cliff (left) what kept him in college during a regular tribal radio program, “Student Perspectives.”

Enrollment, drop-out, and graduation rates – issues of student retention – keep the Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem, MT) staff at their drawing boards reassessing their work.

Michael Little Owl, retention coordinator, says, “Many reasons can prevent a student from completing a degree, factors such as facing high gas prices on limited incomes to failing classes. Everything in between can contribute.” Conversely, he notes there are also reasons why students succeed.

Little Owl and others at FBC are working on a quality retention plan. He states, “Our focus is building leadership by implementing student-centered activities and by measuring our success.”

“Our latest activity is ‘Student Perspectives,’ a radio program in which students share their college experiences,” Little Owl said. “The intent is to inform people on the advantages of attending a tribal college by featuring students’ stories.”

Radio guest Craig Cliff (Gros Ventre) is a single parent (also a grandparent), 2006 FBC computer technology graduate, and transfer student to Montana State University. When interviewed on the radio, he said, “I got tired of moving (among) limited construction jobs.”

Cliff turned out to be an accomplished student who participated in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Knowledge Bowl for two consecutive years. He says the competition gave him confidence, expanded his network, and generated new ideas in his life. Cliff advised listeners, “Take a chance in education, especially if it’s right in your backyard.”

Cliff’s young daughter also takes language immersion classes at FBC. “I am now actively involved and supportive of her education,” he said. FBC focuses upon this mix of modern and traditional knowledge offerings and exchanges between young and old.

Little Owl works closely with counselors who are directly involved with students. They track student attendance, monitor their performance, and offer them available options when needed.

The FBC Retention Committee identified the concepts of engagement and accountability and the theme of shared responsibility to define their work. Little Owl believes they are on the right track. He should know. He graduated from FBC in 1995 with a 2-year degree in Human Services, went on to earn an Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, and returned to help out.

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