So far nobody’s patented a Retain-O-Matic, a surefire, off-the-shelf strategy for increasing the number of students who stay enrolled. Until that happens, improving your college’s graduation rate will require campuswide planning and commitment, the willingness to rethink approaches to an age-old problem.
Attrition is rampant. Nationally, only 58 percent of all first-time students who started a two- or four-year college in fall 2012 returned to the same institution the following year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. And 69 percent returned to any U.S. college. That’s a ton of missed opportunities—and lost tuition revenue.
Although keeping students on track has always been a challenge, the stakes are getting higher. Demographic shifts are bringing more first-generation students, with many needs, through higher education’s gates. Tight budgets and enrollment shortfalls have stretched many campuses thin. Meanwhile, accountability measures and performance-based funding are intensifying concerns about retention rates, which haven’t budged for decades.
So colleges are adopting more-sophisticated blueprints for student success. Some are embracing big data, using predictive models to identify those who are likely to struggle. Many have beefed up advising and support services. And various campuses are redesigning key courses in hopes of getting more students to the finish line. <Read more.>