[Self-Audit] Six Questions To Ask If You Want To Increase Placement and Completion Rates

[Self-Audit] Six Questions To Ask If You Want To Increase Placement and Completion Rates

[Self-Audit] Six Questions To Ask If You Want To Increase Placement and Completion Rates

Use this self-audit as a starting point to help you increase placement and completion rates. 

What sets career education programs apart from traditional higher education is a hyper-focus on completion and placements. Students choose career education knowing that they can complete a program in a short period of time and start making money immediately after graduation. 

But with enrollment numbers declining across the board and increased oversight on placement numbers, improving completion and placement rates is more critical than ever before. 

Here are six questions to ask yourself if you want to increase your placement and completion rates: 

Have you invested in technology designed to eliminate manual data entry for instructors and staff?

There’s a lot to be said about manual data entry. It’s inaccurate. It weakens your audit trail. But its biggest downfall is that it takes significant time from your instructors and staff—time that could be better spent on student success. 

Every minute staff members take doing something that could easily be done faster by a computer is a minute they aren’t spending coaching students to graduation. 

Eliminating the manual burden is a win-win for all. Students achieve their goals, and instructors/staff focus on the parts of their job they’re passionate about. Plus, boosting completion rates improves both your bottom line and your reputation. 

When looking for software that eliminates manual data entry, consider the following: 

  • How many more students could your staff save if they had a few extra hours a day? 
  • How many students would you need to save for the software to pay for itself? 

Learn how one advisor at Paul Mitchell The School – Memphis saved 12 hours per week on worksheet management, giving him more time to focus on students.

Do you have a fully automated solution for uploading attendance records from all modalities into your SIS?

Another pitfall of manual data entry is that it’s often delayed by days, if not a full week—particularly in online/blended learning and externship/clinical. Delayed data leads to delayed action; you can’t connect with an at-risk student when you don’t even know they’re at risk. 

Say a student is absent Monday and Tuesday, but you don’t get that data until Friday. You’re left scrambling to find out if they’re in attendance, let alone if they attended Wednesday/Thursday. Plus, the more time and coursework a student misses, the harder it becomes to catch back up.  Without an automated solution for attendance management, your retention strategy is hamstrung from the start. 

When you automate attendance, your staff gains a real-time view of who is in class and who is absent. You can act fast and reach out to students the moment they’re absent, not after they’ve already missed a week of class or externship/clinical. 

Learn how Hawaii Medical College improved LDA determination in online classes.

Do you provide students with an app/portal to see their academic progress that is updated daily?

At many schools, students receive progress reports after a certain amount of hours or time. If they want an update on their progress in between those milestones, they have to proactively ask instructors or administrators. They may not know how much time they’ve missed or how their grades are trending until they’re already in the red. 

When students have easy access to their progress in an app/portal, they begin to “self-retain.” They can see what they need to make up and what they need to spend more time studying, empowering them to make decisions that support graduation. 

Some students will always require more intervention and support, but having progress easily accessible in an app is a strong motivator for many students. When International Salon and Spa Academy implemented a student app, it also served as a social motivator. Students began comparing their progress to their peers. When a student started falling behind and realized they wouldn’t graduate with their friends, they put in the work to catch up and graduate on time.

Do you have a notification system that automatically notifies faculty and staff of at-risk students?

The earlier you intervene, the more likely you are to get a student back on track. Unfortunately, staff members spend so much time pulling reports to discover who is at risk that they often don’t even intervene until several days after the student becomes at risk. Automating risk notifications allow staff to spend less time talking about at-risk students and more time intervening with them. 

Depending on your notification solution, risk can be determined in different ways. At CourseKey, you can weigh the importance of different risk factors (attendance, grades, lateness, etc) to generate a custom student risk score. If a student’s risk score falls into medium or high-risk categories, CourseKey will immediately send a push notification to students and an email alerting staff members, allowing them to act fast.

Do you have a notification system that automatically notifies students of positive behavior?

We all appreciate when our hard work is recognized, including students. Student communication shouldn’t only be reserved for negative occurrences, but many schools simply don’t have enough hours in the day to look at a student’s record and send them a message of support if they’re doing well. When looking for a student app, consider one that offers customizable, automated notifications that support student intervention and praise. 

With CourseKey, you can take a “set it and forget it” approach. Simply determine when you’d like to send praise, like after five straight days of perfect attendance, set your message, and CourseKey will automatically deliver that praise to students who hit the threshold.

Students who feel seen and valued are more likely to persist through their program and recommend your school to prospective students.

Do you have an extern-to-hire rate above 85%?

Externships should be an easy win for student placements, but a few factors may prevent students from getting hired. 

An externship management issue impacted employment opportunities 

When a student goes offsite for externship or clinical, it becomes incredibly difficult to track and verify attendance. It requires a lot of back and forth between the site preceptor and externship coordinator, with some large schools employing call centers to verify attendance. Ultimately it’s not a great experience for anyone involved. 

Occasionally, a delay in student attendance verification will delay a student’s graduation and placement. If it takes your school longer to verify attendance than other schools with students at that site, the site will prioritize hiring students who can work immediately over your students. 

Implementing an externship management tool helps prevent this from happening, ensuring that none of your students miss out on an exciting job opportunity due to administrative oversight. 

Students lack the soft skills needed to succeed

If a student is chronically late to class, chances are they’re going to be chronically late to externship and, eventually, work. Employers want students who will show up on time, be responsible, and take accountability. Implementing a student app is a great way to increase both student engagement and accountability. 

Students are unhappy with the externship site 

It isn’t always on the student if they don’t get placed at an externship site. An issue with the site, like a toxic work environment or poor management, may cause a student to turn down a job offer. Quick and continuous evaluation of both student satisfaction at the site and student externship performance will give you an earlier understanding of whether or not a student is likely to get a job at the site post-graduation. 

If you answered “no” to one of more questions…

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