Across the country schools are wrestling with two persistent issues:
- How to improve attrition rates?
Attrition concerns exist today because of the large drop in students who start school against the students who actually graduate. Today’s data suggest that only 56% of 1st year students finish with a degree and, on average, it takes 6 years to earn that 4 year degree. A recent study looking at the economic cost of attrition at 1,669 colleges and universities found that the average annual loss per institution on attrition is $9,910,8111.
- How to maximize the investment of the existing infrastructure and vendors?
The institutional goal of maximizing existing infrastructure is a staple of every strategic plan. With the prolific increase in cloud based offerings schools are now able to tweak or augment their expensive platform investments to gain a much deeper insight into the needs of the student resulting in better student outcomes and a greater ROI.
Consider attendance as being part of the solution
Schools interested in the most practical approach to improving attrition and maximizing ROI are looking at existing attendance processes and policies. I will list several sources at the end of this article for additional information, but, what is clear is the link between attendance and the first and second year students. The more real time knowledge the professors and advisors have regarding attendance allow for earlier outreach to students and result in better student outcomes.
Technology has simplified the attendance process
Advancements in Student Campus Card technology have resulted in a robust data collection system that shifts the process of attendance taking from the professor on to the student. Today with a tap on a card reader, students submit their attendance and the data is processed in real time. The process requires little human intervention, is non-biased, and tailored to maximize the schools existing resources. Students and faculty benefit because a quicker and more customized action plan can be implemented off of the real time accurate attendance process. Student based attendance can be applied to select cohorts like first year students, scholarship students, or any cohort the school needs to report on.
For example, in 2010 then President John Haeger of Northern Arizona University recently switched to using the Student ID and card reader technology in larger first year classes with the goal of improving attrition rates. NAU has seen improved results “…At NAU, seven out of 10 freshmen return the next year. That's slightly above the national average for four-year public universities, but Haeger would like to boost that to between eight and nine.”2
Institutions looking to make an academic case for attendance have referenced the article below. A meta-analysis of the relationship between class attendance in college and college grades reveals that attendance has strong relationships with both class grades (k = 69, N = 21,195, ρ = .44) and GPA (k = 33, N = 9,243, ρ = .41). These relationships make class attendance a better predictor of college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance, including scores on standardized admissions tests such as the SAT, high school GPA, study habits, and study skills. (3)
If your institution is looking for solutions that will improve attrition rates, create better student outcomes and improve the ROI of your existing platforms and vendors, then introducing an attendance process tied to your campus card is a smart place to start.