Taking Action Against Attrition

AttritionIn light of both governmental and public focus on higher education success rates, the issue of retention has never been more timely. President Obama’s 2020 goal of increasing degree attainment numbers, as well as expanding the number of students and improving completion rates, could put badly needed federal funding and financial aid in jeopardy for both public and private institutions.

Are you concerned about attrition on your campus?

In “Lessons from Retention High Performers: Successful Strategies and Best Practices” by  Eduventures Sponsored Thought Leadership Initiative and sponsored by PlattForm, EBI-MAP Works, and Tuition Management Systems, the authors tackle the challenges and the opportunities that higher education will face in the coming years.

This thoughtful and comprehensive eBook describes a situation where schools will become more competitive as the recent boom in enrollment subsides.  These competing institutions will be challenged to retain a growing population of students - adult learners and minorities in particular- who have historically been at risk of dropping out. All of this while at the same time government and the public are demanding more accountability and the private sector is frustrated with unprepared graduates entering the work force.

A Change in Thinking

To make their point the authors suggest that institutions dependent on tuition align enrollment and retention resources by considering the true cost of attrition and that it might make more sense for administrators to “think of retention as a source of revenue.” They provide a quick and easy way to calculate the dollars lost when a student drops out. The average cost of acquisition, by the way - is $2,552.

Key to the success of retention programs lies in the data. Identifying students at high risk requires taking a centralized approach. Identifying “attrition indicators” and providing successful intervention requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders across campus. Capturing and tailoring the data will help administrators make the best use of limited resources.

A Top Down Approach

Committing to and carrying out a successful retention strategy must start at the top. The authors note that when the President and Board of Directors are engaged, the resources to collect and centralize data are made more readily available, and that traditional silos are more likely to give way to collaboration when it comes to student saving intervention strategies.

For institutions looking to make the most of recruitment dollars, the importance of retention cannot be overemphasized. “Lessons from Retention High Performers: Successful Strategies and Best Practices” utilizes a three part methodology to identifying high performers and the common themes that result in strong retention numbers. The authors surveyed 74 institutions of which 34% were public, 61% private and 5% were for-profit. Selected high-performing schools included California State University, San Bernardino, Coker College and Dominican University, among others.

To read the full eBook “Lessons from Retention High Performers: Successful Strategies and Best Practices” Click below.

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