Tips to Improve Your College's Student Retention Strategy
Colleges often don’t give their retention strategy the same attention and planning as their enrollment strategy, although they’re equally important. This may be because retaining students cuts through every aspect of student life, or determining how much it costs to retain one student is more complex than calculating the cost of enrolling one student. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t deter your college from developing a comprehensive retention management program.
- Identify a retention owner: at many colleges, there is no single person responsible for progressing and retaining students. This makes centralized data collection and inter-department coordination hard. Fix this by placing one senior-level administrator, with presidential support, in charge of all retention efforts.
- Build student profiles: to create and obtain consensus on annual retention objectives, you need to understand your student body and their needs. Take time to research why students are leaving your school and why they remain – the profile of a student who persists in a program is just as important as that of the dropout for your strategy.
- Create segmented retention strategies: don’t expect a one-size-fits-all approach to work. To determine effective and early intervention techniques, build different retention strategies for different cohorts, including academically talented students, high‐risk students, commuter students, international students, undeclared major students, and transfer students.
- Gain the support and cooperation of the entire campus: everyone on your campus, from faculty to the financial aid and residence life staff, plays a significant role in retaining students. Make sure they understand your objectives and the importance of their cooperation.
- Base goals on research: to prioritize goals, establish short and long-term objectives, and assess progress, you need to understand who your students are and why they’re leaving and staying. Consider collecting the following information:
- Profile of the dropout and persister, including information around standardized test scores, residential or commuter student, ethnicity, financial aid, etc.
- Fall to spring and spring to fall attrition rates by department and school
- Probation and leave of absence reports
- Students withdrawing because of financial difficulties
The tips above provide a great starting place for your college to develop a retention strategy that’s as robust as your enrollment management strategy. To see more recommendations, read the full article from Enrollment Management Report here.
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