Enrollment Management > Student Retention > 4 Ps of Student Retention

DePaul University's 4 Ps of Student Retention

​​In 2008, DePaul developed and endorsed a comprehensive framework to guide a wide range of initiatives designed to improve DePaul's overall graduation rates.

The comprehensive framework, referred to as the "4 Ps of Student Retention," proposes that a strategic approach to retention starts with attention to the profile of the students we admit, focuses on ways we can facilitate their progress toward degree completion, improves the process of navigating this complex institution and ensures that all students' experiences in and out of the classroom fulfill the promise of a DePaul education. The benefit of the 4 Ps is that they succinctly frame the complexity of retention, outline goals that focus attention on the most critical and strategic elements, and allow prioritization of investments and initiatives.

For a detailed explanation of the 4 Ps, click here.
DePaul's articulated approach to student retention is considered groundbreaking; DePaul has been featured at national meetings and the approach is explored further in a Jossey-Bass text on student retention titled "Reframing Retention Strategy for Institutional Improvement," published in March 2013.

Retention Goals and Strategies at DePaul

Retention goals in the context of the comprehensive 4 Ps framework include: 

Profile: Elevate the academic profile and preparedness of entering student cohorts while keeping a mission-balanced socioeconomic and demographic mix.
Progress: Ensure students' initial academic success and continuous academic progress toward a DePaul degree.
Process: Improve all processes and services related to students' enrollment at DePaul.
Promise: Ensure all students' expectations and experiences are consistent with the promise of DePaul's purposes and brand.
Examples of strategies in the context of the comprehensive 4 Ps framework include:
  • Piloting non-traditional assessments in admission through the DIAMOND program, an innovative approach in the admission process that uses non-cognitive indicators of student potential to complement traditional admission criteria such as ACT scores and high school grades.
  • Enacting a test-optional admission pilot program by which students applying for admission may choose whether or not to submit ACT/SAT test scores as part of their application. This pilot program is an innovation that recognizes the superiority of high school grades and curriculum for predicting student persistence and graduation. Test-optional admission eliminates barriers for high-achieving students whose test scores may not match their high school performance.
  • Creating the Center for Access and Attainment within DePaul's Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing. The center is designed to centralize DePaul's enrollment and outreach initiatives and innovations designed to ensure diversity, access and student success, such as building pipelines and partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Chicago's Catholic schools and community organizations in ways that facilitate not only enrolling but also successfully graduating low-income students of color. The center manages federally funded programs including GEAR UP, Student Support Services and the McNair Scholars Program, and a DePaul program modeled after the McNair program: the Arthur L. Mitchem Fellowship Program.
  • Implementing a comprehensive partnership with the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in CPS. Graduates of CPS IB curricula are historically students of color and from lower-income families, yet have exemplary retention and graduation rates, much higher than average rates of college retention and completion. DePaul has gained international recognition for its partnerships with the CPS IB programs.
  • Creating pipelines for transfer students through the DePaul Admission Partnership Program (DAPP).

  • Providing a holistic orientation experience for all new students and families as well as connecting students and families to services, resources and engagement opportunities necessary to successfully navigate the university.
  • Piloting and implementing approaches to improving students' readiness for college-level work, especially in math and writing, by introducing tuition-free remedial coursework in the summer before the start of the freshman year.
  • Developing a comprehensive online degree progress tracking system  to enable students to effectively map their entire curricular path to degree completion and maintain timely progress toward "on-time" graduation.
  • Developing an online faculty feedback process for instructors to identify early in each quarter the students who are struggling academically, enabling early intervention.
  • Re-engineering targeted courses (such as introductory algebra) that historically have had the highest rate of students failing and withdrawing, in order to ensure that students make satisfactory progress in their first year.
  • Designing a new online university catalog that will include four-year grids to help students plan their degree progress.

  • Streamlining and integrating all university processes and services related to students' enrollment transactions through DePaul Central, a single, one-stop source for students in three key service areas: financial aid, student accounts and student registration and records. The innovative staffing and technological developments in DePaul Central have been highlighted at several national conferences as best practices in student service.
  • Launching the Financial Fitness program, one of the first financial literacy programs of its kind in the country, designed to help students manage not only their college-related finances but the entirety of their personal financial obligations; for example, providing counseling to assist in managing credit card debt.
  • Constructing a centralized learning center that will consolidate resources for students.
  • Requiring Chicago Quarter courses that acquaint first-year students at DePaul with the metropolitan community, its neighborhoods, cultures, people, institutions, organizations and issues. (Chicago Quarter teaching teams are trained on the 4 Ps and their role in student success.) 
  • Providing numerous options for the Junior-Year Experiential Learning requirement, which engages students in the first-hand discovery of knowledge through observation and participation in activities, most often in field-based settings outside the classroom. Two options where opportunities are expanding include study abroad and undergraduate research.  
  • Expanding participation in programming through the Office of Multicultural Student Success, creating opportunities for students of color, low-income college students and first-generation college students to build life skills that enhance their career, personal and academic success.
  • Ensuring that all students have opportunities for internships that help them bridge their academic and career interests, including providing funding that allows low-income students to accept unpaid internships without creating undue financial burdens and building professional skills in the EDGE program for first-year students.
  • Expanding DePaul's national reputation in service-learning programs, helping students connect active community engagement with their academic and learning goals.
  • Connecting to alumni for mentoring and professional development.
For more information about DePaul's 4 Ps framework, contact Brady Johnson, director of communication for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

Learn More

DePaul was awarded the Best Practices Award for the 4 Ps framework at the 2013 National Symposium on Student Retention conference.

Read the conference paper, "Improving Outcomes through the 4 Ps of Student Retention Framework."