Retention is a critical measurement of success for a career university. Not only is it an indication of the percentage of students on track to graduate, it directly affects the funding that career education institutions receive from the government. Retaining students isn’t always easy, and according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2020 saw the largest decrease in retention rates since the institute began tracking the metric in 2009.
One of the biggest factors that impacts retention rates is absences from class. The majority of students who drop from their program do so because they have been absent too many times to remain in their program.
Reactive vs. proactive career university retention strategies
Most career universities run reactive retention strategies. When it’s reported that a student is absent, most schools will begin putting their retention strategy in motion, which typically consists of reaching out to the student to remind them of their standing and that they should come to class next time. The issue is that many career institutions aren’t aware that a student has been absent until attendance rosters are collected, handed in, and uploaded to the SIS. With this reactive strategy, outreach can only start once an LDA report is generated, which could take days for institutions using pen and paper attendance methods. During that time, a student may have missed even more hours.
On the other hand, institutions that employ proactive retention strategies by leveraging attendance data in real-time have been able to improve their retention rates. With real-time knowledge of which students are absent, institutions can maximize their chances of getting the student back in class.
Detect absences instantly
Absences are going to happen. But if admins aren’t aware of absences until a day or two later, the school’s outreach strategy is delayed, and it’s possible a student may have missed more hours during that time.
With real-time attendance visibility, admins can stay on top of student attendance from the very start of a program or module. After the very first absence, admins can start their retention strategy immediately to intervene with students before they become at-risk. This timely intervention significantly increases the likelihood of retention.
Begin outreach to students during class time
With real-time attendance data, an admin can see right away if a class has absent students and which students are absent in order to reach out to them during the time they should be in class.
Because administrators are reaching out to students while they’re supposed to be in class and not hours later when they may be working or have other obligations, the chances of getting in contact with them increase significantly.
In some cases, administrators can get ahold of students early enough to bring them to class before it ends. In some cases, students may be running late, or they may have gotten the date and time mixed up and admins actually remind them that they have class. This happens more frequently in online courses because students can log into the session in a matter of seconds.
Instead of feeling like they’re chasing after the student unsuccessfully and worrying they won’t show up the next day, admins can leverage real-time visibility to stay on top of retention and increase their chances of getting in contact with a student before they’re seriously at risk.
Improving career university externship retention
Because paper timesheets are typically collected on a weekly basis, detecting absences in externships is even more delayed. Students that don’t complete their assigned externship hours on time are typically dropped without any questions asked.
With real-time visibility into student externship hours through digital platforms, externship coordinators can reach out to the student and remind them that they’ll be dropped if they don’t complete a number of hours before week’s end.
Retention is heavily influenced by student attendance. Career colleges face the ongoing challenge of influencing students to return to class before they’re dropped. With real-time attendance data, institutions can begin their retention strategy as quickly as possible to maximize the likelihood of contacting students and having them show up to class.
To learn more about how CourseKey can help your school achieve its retention goals, request a demo below.