Colleges and universities are taking the job of retaining students seriously. It can cost a school over $13,000 to lose a student who was previously enrolled. Identifying at-risk students early on and seeking ways to help them succeed is top priority among Student Success Directors and First Year Experience Coordinators. School officials recognize the importance of being proactive rather than reactive. This phenomenon is still relatively new. As recently as a decade ago, terms like “intrusive advising” “retention programs”, and “orientation courses” were considered experimental and cutting edge. In 2013, it appears schools that do not have some system or software in place measuring engagment analytics or group of designated peer mentors are simply behind the times.
Schools that recognize the close relationship between ill prepared students and retention, seem to be more successful in launching proactive strategies that are helping them reclaim students before it is too late. At-risk students are defined in categories and include first generation college students, non-traditional students, English Language Learners, and academically underprepared students.
As part of a proactive retention strategy, school officials need to include all departments when “getting buy-in”. Faculty and staff should be trained in recognizing warning signs and have a clear plan of action to follow in order to get the student(s) the help they need and quick.
As we “Throwback Thursday” let us keep moving foward and not go back to the old days where we simply “reacted” when students dropped out, sitting around the table saying “I wonder why he/she left”.