4 Ways Your School Can Start Improving Retention

When it comes to student retention, the reality is that schools can’t predict or control every factor that influences whether a student persists through their program. To increase retention, schools need to focus on their half of the retention equation and direct their attention to constantly building and improving their retention tactics. Here are four ways to jump start the process of improving your retention rates.  

1. Frequent Touch Points

The best way to increase touch points with students is to leverage the most intimate communication device they possess: their mobile phones. Students are on their phones now more than they’ve ever been. According to this survey at Ohio University, students are spending an average of 4 hours and 25 minutes per day looking at their screens. Mobile devices are practically an extension of the human body and thus make the perfect channel for communicating quick messages that won’t go unnoticed. 

Whether it’s through email, text messaging, or communicating through an app, there are options to keep consistent contact with students via their devices. For instance, schools can send campus wide alerts to students, including weather alerts, such as snow days, or service updates, such as delays in bus schedules. When it’s time for exams, schools can send encouraging and supportive messages, like “you’ve got this!” or push reminders about how vital a good night sleep is. If schools want to make students feel like their voices are being heard and gather data in return, they can push out short student experience surveys. Sending students personalized notifications and messages on their phone is the fastest way to interact with them.

2. Transparency

Students are more likely to feel in control when the factors they attribute to their success feel internal and controllable. Giving students a way to monitor their attendance records and class grades can help increase those feelings of control. When students feel more in control, they are more likely to persist in their education. But the trick here is that the data needs to be up-to-date whenever a student goes in to check their records. To have the data available in real-time calls for digital solutions that can automatically update data seconds after attendance is recorded or assessments are completed. Transparency into real-time data can form a heightened sense of ownership that empowers students to feel like they belong and stay enrolled.

3. Established Learning Communities

Students learn and make friends in tandem. Those connections that form between students (and faculty, too) help incentivize students to stay enrolled. By bridging the gap and offering greater social integration for students, schools can create better opportunities for students to achieve improved academic outcomes. 

A course-wide chat is a great way to foster a learning community in the classroom, letting students share ideas, notes, and answer each others’ questions. From this interaction, students will create even more personal connections with each other. When students feel like part of a learning community, they’ll feel like they’re progressing through their programs together as a cohesive unit, instead of as mere individuals. 

4. More Timely Intervention

When it comes to intervention, speed is vital. More timely intervention is crucial to stopping attrition, because with every hour that passes without intervening with at-risk students, the chance of keeping them enrolled decreases. Manual entry processes, like using pen and paper to track attendance, cause the transfer of information to take hours, even days in some cases, to reach registrars. This, in turn, results in delayed intervention outreach. If registrars could know in real-time whether students were in class or not, they would be able to intervene with students as soon as possible, providing students with timely support and maximizing the likelihood of keeping them enrolled. New digital solutions offer schools the ability to eliminate the manual data entry step and integrate systems to maximize the ability for registrars to get at-risk students back on track. 

Because of the countless factors that affect a students’ academic journey, it’s impossible for schools to keep every student enrolled every year. Luckily there are steps that schools can take to provide better support to students and increase their likelihood of success. Schools that start to emphasize frequent interactions, provide transparency, foster learning communities, and intervene faster will be in the best position to improve student retention.

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  1. K Dish November 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Great read! Well said: “When it comes to intervention, speed is vital. More timely intervention is crucial to stopping attrition, because with every hour that passes without intervening with at-risk students, the chance of keeping them enrolled decreases.”

    • Alex Weitzel November 12, 2019 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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