While meeting admissions targets might seem like the biggest challenge faced by institutions, it is student retention that has become a significant concern in the increasingly competitive education market. Student retention figures measure the number of students who return from one year to the next and complete graduation and are seen as a crucial metric for measuring an institution’s overall success. A decrease in student retention signifies a loss of tuition revenue due to students transferring to other institutions or dropping out of their courses. Additionally, those students who drop out are at a higher risk of leading a life with limited career prospects, low paying jobs, and increased personal challenges.
Several factors may impel students to leave their school or college before completing their degrees. Impractical expectations of students, insufficient support from the faculty and administrators, academic difficulties, and culture shock are some of the main reasons why students often feel like they have no choice but to drop out. This is why institutions must have a robust student retention plan in place.
Here are some student retention strategies that can help to preserve your student success rates :
1. Set Realistic Expectations
It is important to highlight the best that your institution can offer to prospective students. In trying to attract students to enrol, promoting unrealistic expectations of what the student experience will be like with the institution, could lead to disappointment and a loss of effort and resources spent by both sides. When sharing your vision with aspiring students, ensure that there is an alignment of goals and objectives that are to be achieved at the end of the student’s learning journey with the institution.
2. Enhance The Student Experience
Student life involves so much more than just grades and studying to get a job upon graduation. For most students, this is the first opportunity they have to be truly independent. They need to fulfil their social and emotional needs over the course of their academic journey and require the right support to do so. Research has found that living in campus housing leads to an improvement in student performance, retention and graduation rates. Providing students with high standard housing, sports facilities, transportation and other amenities can make a huge difference. Having clubs and societies and hosting student fairs and societies will help them engage with their peers and build their own networks.
When it comes to independence, instilling the values of financial independence is equally important. There are many students who have part-time or full-time jobs to gain work experience and support themselves financially, something that should be promoted, not inhibited. By enabling students to opt for flexible schedules with evening or weekend classes, you can help them juggle their various responsibilities. Providing them with ample access to financial aid and scholarships can help them deal with financial issues and focus on gaining the most out of their time in school or college.
3. Seek Regular Feedback From Students
Students tend to feel at odds with their school or college when there is no proper engagement with the administration. Your student retention activities should include conducting student surveys to gather feedback about their courses, professors, student resources etc. Consistent student engagement can help prevent students from dropping out as it helps you to identify and deal with the issues, making necessary changes. Holding student forums and discussion will ensure that students can voice their concerns in a safe space. Maintaining an open line of communication can build a great deal of trust between the student body and the administration.
4. Establish Comprehensive Intervention Processes
Most students tend to face a host of academic, social, financial and personal pressures. Without a strong support system, students may feel a heightened sense of isolation and disillusionment. It is critical to implement intervention measures to identify at-risk students early on and help them overcome their difficulties. Identify key performance metrics by which student performance is to be measured. Use this data in conjunction with student feedback and reviews to identify students who are falling behind. Offer guidance and counselling to help them tackle the hardships that they face.
Parental support and involvement are vital to student success so it is important to facilitate continuous communications between the student, parents, faculty and administration. Faculty members can work with parents to create personalised learning plans to help students overcome academic challenges. Setting up alumni and peer mentorship programs can help students seek advice and counsel regarding their academics and career prospects. Counsellors can help provide guidance pertaining to academic, social and personal problems. Constant monitoring and early intervention can ensure the wellbeing of students in all aspects of their educational journey, helping to improve student retention in your institution.