Strategies to Boost Student Retention Rates – Overcoming the Student Dropout Crisis

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US higher education system reflects a serious concern when it comes to student dropout rates. One in three students never earn a degree; reflecting the need for adopting new promising solutions. Another fold to the condition highlights the fact that similar students enrolled in different institutions have different graduation rates; making us realize that the real problem could possibly be with institutional processes and the methodologies followed – not students.

In our experience, there is a gamut of factors that affect student retention rates, some of them can be:

  • Cost – This includes improper financial aid structure & allotment
  • Social Hindrance – No opportunities for making friends and building social groups on campus
  • Blurred Expectations – Unclear definition of personal as well as academic expectations from a student etc.
Alongside understanding the problems, institutions must come up with strategies to overcome those hurdles. Let’s have a look some of the ways that an institution can adapt to ensure higher retention rates:

1) Data-driven Solutions – Per GlobalDMA, around 49% of the marketers use data to improve on the customer experience. Why can’t higher ed take advantage of the same? We need to understand that we are dealing with students of the generation who have access to all the technologies at their fingertips; pointing towards the urgency of ensuring much better execution of student-centric plans. With the help of data revolving around the students, institutions can help students find solutions to their individual problems and eventually boost student retention rates. Data around students can be related to their grades, their participation in social groups or other extra-curricular activities, their individual needs, etc.

2) Shaking Hands with Technology – Around 94% of the US population, ranging between 18-29 years, have access to smartphones. Hence, there is no other way to keep this generation’s students engaged but make friends with technology. Having a campus mobile app can help students feel more connected with their institution. A campus mobile app can enhance the communication experience between constituents and ultimately boost up student retention rates.

3) Investing in Intervention Programs – It is a good way to help students facing academic, financial, personal or other social difficulties. Institutions can organize support groups and workshops to help those students get through with such hurdles and retain the at-risk students.

4) Appointing Resources for Academic – Appointing knowledgeable and experienced advisors to help students with their academic journey can be a great step towards increasing student retention rates. Institutions must invest in academic advising to ensure student success.

The Bottom Line Is

Student retention has become a critical problem in higher ed. Hence, the inclusion of some innovative solutions is the need of the hour. No institution would like a student to drop out just after his/her first year. Colleges and universities today need to invest in incorporating a well-thought-out plan to ensure higher rates of student retention. What do you think?