Columbus State University Gains Insight into Retention Rates Using a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Environment
 
 

Columbus State University Gains Insight into Retention Rates Using a Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence Environment

Columbus State University (CSU), located just 100 miles southwest of Atlanta, Georgia, has more than 8,200 students and offers 46 undergraduate and 42 graduate degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university among the top regional universities in the South.

As part of the 35-member University System of Georgia, Columbus State University is required to evaluate—and ultimately improve—undergraduate student retention, progression, and graduation rates to meet Georgia’s higher education completion plan, “Complete College Georgia,” which seeks to increase the number of Georgia’s young adults who obtain a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree.

In line with this initiative, the university must report retention, progression, and graduation  metrics to the University System of Georgia on an ongoing basis. With the university’s legacy system, these reports took several weeks to produce and did not provide the desired analytical drill-down needed. To improve reporting accuracy and timeliness, while also focusing on the university’s personal goal—data quality and integrity—the university worked with Oracle Consulting to design and implement a business intelligence and data warehouse solution using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and Oracle Data Integrator.

With Oracle Consulting, the university could actively participate in goal planning—creating a partnership that led to a seamless and successful integration. The new business intelligence environment enables users to pull detailed retention, progression, and graduation metrics and reports using the real-time dashboard. Also, with access to 10 years of information, users can identify patterns and trends characterizing successful students, as well as drop outs, enabling CSU’s educators and administrators to make more informed decisions, better target troubled students, and enact changes to entice students to stay through graduation. Just days after system go-live, the university’s president gained valuable insight into student retention trends that belied earlier assertions.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Columbus State University

  • "Partnership was a key ingredient in Columbus State University’s decision to choose Oracle. Oracle Consulting worked closely with our internal resources to deliver a comprehensive data warehouse and business intelligence solution that perfectly meets our needs and will enable our leadership to make valuable decisions related to student retention, progression, and graduation." – Abraham George, Chief Information Officer, Columbus State University

  • Evaluate—and ultimately improve—retention, progression, and graduation rates for undergraduate students to meet Georgia’s higher education completion plan, “Complete College Georgia,” which seeks to increase the number of Georgia’s young adults who obtain a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree
  • Create a single knowledge repository—which brings together its Banner student information system, facility management, and Oracle’s PeopleSoft applications—to improve data quality and integrity
  • Implement a dynamic dashboard providing users with access to real-time information for reporting and decision-making
  • Identify patterns and trends characterizing successful students, as well as drop outs, enabling CSU’s educators and administrators to make more informed decisions, better target troubled students, and enact changes to entice students to stay through graduation

Solutions

  • Worked with Oracle Consulting to successfully design and implement a business intelligence environment to measure student retention, progression, and graduation metrics
  • Used Oracle Data Integrator to create a single knowledge repository—which brings together the student information system, facility management, and PeopleSoft applications—and presented this information using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, generating may reports in real-time that used to take one week or more
  • Used the solution’s business intelligence capabilities to understand successful students’ characteristics, as well as the patterns and reasons why students leave or do not graduate, enabling CSU’s educators and administrators to better target students and enact changes to entice students to stay through graduation
  • Provided the University System of Georgia with timely and accurate reports on retention, progression, and graduation metrics, meeting the “Complete College Georgia” transparency requirements
  • Provided leadership and decision makers—including cabinet members, deans, department heads, and the university president—with real-time insight into enrollment data
  • Enabled staff to drill down enrollment, retention, and graduation data by college, department, degree, majors/minors, ethnicity/student profile, undergraduate credit hours, and faculty head count to identify recurring trends and support decision-making
  • Simplified end-user reporting with the solution’s real-time dashboard, eliminating the need for users to submit report requests that often took weeks to fill out and would slow down the system
  • Analyzed student retention, progression, and graduation  metrics to understand how effective the university is at helping students reach their academic goals and take actions to improve in the necessary areas
  • Worked with Oracle Consulting to build the analytics environment, based on the university president’s process improvement initiative, which defines key performance indicators related to academic affairs and student performance
  • Used the executive dashboard to analyze enrollment data from the past ten years to determine trends, such as top degrees, highest drop-out majors, and graduation rates per semester and year—with the ability to export this data into Word, PowerPoint, or portable document format (PDF)
  • Integrated information from student surveys into the data warehouse to understand how freshman are enjoying their roommates, food, classrooms, and overall experience, enabling faculty to pinpoint dissatisfaction areas and proactively intervene to ultimately improve the 29%, first-year student dropout rate

Why Oracle

Columbus State University had a great existing relationship with Oracle and knew only Oracle could deliver a robust solution that could grow with its needs. Further, Oracle Consulting offered the university a strong, reliable partner who understands how best to implement data warehousing and business intelligence solutions for higher education.

“Oracle was ingrained in our DNA as we were using multiple Oracle applications through state contract and running on Oracle Database 11g. It was natural to expand with Oracle, and Oracle Consulting’s deep expertise made this expansion possible,” said Abraham George, chief information officer, Columbus State University.

Implementation Process

Oracle Consulting leveraged the Oracle Unified Method (OUM) implementation methodology and worked closely with CSU’s functional and technical staff, from requirements gathering, through design and implementation. Combining Oracle Consulting’s expertise with CSU’s staff provided a cohesive implementation team. The university implemented phase one—focusing on academic affairs and student performance—over a five month period, on time and on budget. The university is working on phase two, which will focus on finance, human resources, and predictive analysis.