Improving Student Retention through Targeted Engagement and Personalization

Concurrent Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Do you want to improve retention by actively engaging your students?  Discover a personalized and targeted approach to student engagement.  Learn strategies for early and continued engagement throughout the application process, orientation, first term, and beyond!  Leave with an array of ideas you can immediately implement in your institution.   


Sharon Goldstein was appointed Campus Operating Officer for Berkeley College Online in January 2007. Ms. Goldstein oversees day-to-day operations, finances, student and staff retention, space management, creative programming, community outreach and expansion. She joined Berkeley College in 2003 as the Director of Career Services. Prior to joining Berkeley College, Ms. Goldstein spent 15 years working as a recruiter in the staffing industry and holds the CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) designation. Sharon is currently serving as co-chairperson of the 2018 OLC Accelerate conference. Additionally, Sharon serves as an Advisory Board Member of Stevens Institute of Technology, Web Campus. Ms. Goldstein has also served as a Board Member for United States Distance Learning Association, and the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Goldstein was recently named a Fellow and inducted into the 2018 Lead NJ class and is a graduate of both Leadership Berkeley and Leadership Paterson. Sharon has been serving as a mentor in the Leadership Berkeley program since 2008. She is a passionate advocate on the subject of work/life balance and delivers keynotes and workshops based upon her “Feeling of Balance” concept.

Extended Abstract

Participants will:

1) Discover creative strategies for early and continued engagement of students.

2) Explore cross-departmental initiatives designed to improve retention.

3) Understand the role of targeted engagement and personalization in retaining students.



As the number of online students continues to represent nearly a third of all learners, the importance of increasing student engagement and improving retention remains paramount to achieving the results sought by higher education institutions.   Research shows that students who are critically engaged in an online environment are more likely to persist and graduate.  This presentation will focus on the collaborative effort of the Berkeley College Online Campus associates in developing and executing a creative approach to improving retention by implementing a targeted approach to engagement and personalization. 

Follow a student’s path from application to graduation, as the presenter illustrates current strategies designed to provide meaningful engagement.  Through the development of a personalized application portal, a student portal, an evolving and highly interactive orientation, the integration of time management resources, wellness information, and positive motivators delivered though outreach and programming, our approach to student retention continues to become more targeted and more engaging.  The use of predictive analytics also serves to shape the design of our strategies.  Throughout the session, participants will learn about three additional initiatives; a peer mentor program, a student advisory board, and a “One Step Closer” event, designed to promote an ongoing sense of engagement for new students, continuing students, and alumni.  During this workshop, the presenter will demonstrate how assessment shapes the design of these and future strategies. 

An open conversation is encouraged, where participants discuss their perspectives and experiences in relation to the subject matter and explore implementation of strategies at their institutions.  Sharing of appropriate links and resources will occur.