10 Key Strategies to Improve Student Retention for Your Institutions

10 Nov 2022
Student Retention

‘’Success doesn't come from what you occasionally do, it comes from what you do consistently’’ quoted by American entrepreneur Marie Forleo signifies a key aspect of accomplishment. Therefore, it would not be inaccurate to point out that one must continuously put in concerted efforts to generate excellent output. For instance, if an institute does not consider everyone’s interests, it would most likely lead to low student retention.

Besides, an institute is a broad organization that keeps expanding, thanks to the increasing number of enrollments. Furthermore, you might have noticed that students of different economic and ethnic backgrounds do not always get the necessary support or representation. Consequently, this dissatisfaction factor from the get-go adds to the overarching problems they might face.

They drop out when they find no solution, but aren’t their problems solely responsible for their academic issues? Why should the institute intervene if a student faces difficulties? It is crucial to understand that a student’s personal life includes their academic life, which is interdependent. And institutes need to create a helpful environment for students’ comprehensive development.

What is Student Retention, and Why is it Necessary?

The 2020 pandemic triggered a sudden increase in college and university dropout rates worldwide; however, most countries gradually succeeded in battling the disease and bringing the situation under control. But the education sector struggled the most as schools or colleges could not hold traditional in-person classes; online classes soon gained traction, but a low attention span caused a lack of concentration.

On the other hand, a lack of access to appropriate technology and economic hardships equally contributed to students dropping out. Besides, you must understand that discontinuing studies abruptly before graduation can cause students to face many problems in the future. For example, insufficient education leads them to choose low-paying jobs and fewer employment opportunities.

Moreover, they might not be able to establish a secure future, limiting their ability to contribute to their communities. Therefore, institutes must work with the faculty to determine the fundamental reasons for student dropouts, including academic fees, cost, social challenges, isolation, and unclear expectations. After determining the contributing factors, campus leaders and teachers must work together to figure out student-tracking solutions and follow individual students' academic journeys through specific methods.

Take a look at a few strategies to improve student retention for your institution:


1. Utilize Technology to Track Student’s Performance

We have been using tools to simplify most of the time-consuming and tedious tasks; now, imagine what one could do if one uses it to enhance critical institutional processes. For instance, they can use student information systems to store mandatory student information conveniently. Furthermore, you can use the system to prepare progress reports and check students' attendance history and make sure they are doing well in class or not.

The system integrates with an AI-powered analytics dashboard to keep track of students' academic performance. What does that mean? The faculty do not have to wait for exam results to learn about individual performance. Instead, the system analyzes the information stored in the system enabling the faculty to check it from time to time.

Moreover, the teachers can use the reports to identify the key areas where the individual students are still lagging. After that, they can implement the necessary actions to help students overcome academic obstacles; in the long run, this helps improve the student-teacher relationship.

2. Connect and Engage with Students

During enrollment, be it through traditional or online admission systems, students get the assurance that they will get the required help throughout the academic period. However, despite such promises, students face unexpected problems that worsen without timely assistance from the institute management.

Therefore, institutes need to establish adequate support services, whereas teachers need to do their part by designing orientation programs. Also, they can work with the student body leaders to help them connect and build meaningful relationships with peers, student leaders, faculty, and advisors.

3. Set Measurable Goals

Different college and university programs and courses have varying modules and curricula, so it requires students to organize their time and tasks accordingly. But with several assignments and personal commitments, it could be daunting for them to complete all coherently. So, it would help if teachers could help them establish a well-structured system wherein they can set specific goals.

These goals need to be SMART(Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), advising them on segregating time to complete projects, study, and prepare for an oncoming examination. They can use learning apps to keep track of time spent on particular goals, helping them self-assess their progress.

4. Setting Crucial Student Support Services

Higher education is expensive in all countries, and students with varied economic backgrounds might be unable to afford it. Since financial restrictions have been one of the leading factors for students dropping out, institutes must take proactive prevention steps. Hence, a practical step would be to set up appropriate student support services such as scholarship programs and financial aid, enabling learners with funds to continue their studies and increasing student retention.

Furthermore, during the student registration process, the administrative department needs to inform them about the student support services in full detail.

5. Strategic Academic Assistance

Should institutes limit their assistance to classrooms and provide essential financial aid? The answer is NO because students continue to face problems that go beyond the classroom. You must have noticed that some students are well aware of what they want to do in their careers, while others struggle to focus on their aims.

Without timely support, the latter continues to suffer due to a lack of clarity related to career and academics, so institutes must set up counseling sessions. Furthermore, they can conduct seminars wherein students can meet industry officials and leaders and learn about in-demand jobs and career options.

6. Go Beyond Grades and Courses

The emphasis on attaining excellent scores or grades on examinations has been a pervading rage that takes away from the real goal of education. Good grades are indicative of high intelligence and potential, but the problem arises when it becomes a singular focus. You need to consider that a student who scores average grades can also be excellent in other areas.

So, teachers must take advantage of the student information system to check student performance details in other extracurricular activities. Then, they can encourage them to pursue that interest by dividing their time to studies; when students see their talents or skills get recognition, they will give time to concentrate on studies and academics.

7. Initiate Inter-Departmental Collaboration

An institute has several departments, and the faculty can use this to their advantage; the administrative department can work with the faculty to organize teams. This team would include communication specialists and various subject department teachers/professors who are experts in different fields.

All the team members can collaborate to establish a resourceful institutional structure; they can keep track of student progress and identify at-risk students.

8. Intervene Early On

How to know which students are about to drop out of the institute? What is the most convenient way to identify at-risk students?

One of the best student-tracking solutions is an attendance management system; the faculty can determine which students frequently miss classes. High absence rates relate to an increased risk of students dropping out, so the sooner the institute intervenes, the greater the chances of retaining students. Hence, after noticing the repeated absence, the admin can send emails and texts alerting them about the matter.

9. Student Engagement

One of the best student retention strategies lies in the classroom; the faculty must understand the student's needs and implement solutions in sync with their specific demands. Furthermore, it would be inaccurate to assume that a classroom filled with diverse students would have similar requirements.

So, take surveys or online polls, and conduct discussion forums to analyze respective individual learning needs. Besides, this strategy will give a platform to the students to share their issues and voice their opinions.

10. Integrate a Data-Driven System

Institutes must use student data strategically to observe student activity and behavior and understand and take necessary steps. Moreover, they can use tools and applications that provide data analytics, which helps immensely during decision-making.

Simultaneously, they can work with the faculty and the admin staff to understand what is happening in real time by using predictive analytics. After that, they can take mitigative actions to solve the most common problems of student retention.

In Conclusion

Students face multiple challenges towards the beginning of their higher education journey; however, institutes can make a considerable impact by providing them with the right opportunities. Additionally, they can use retention strategies to help them overcome crucial issues and enhance their educational experience.

Gurudev Somani Author :

Gurudev Somani,

Academic Consultant

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