Retention BasicsWho needs help, and why?

What is Student Retention?

Student retention can be anything from counselors reaching out to students who are performing poorly, to schools using data to proactively identify students who are at-risk of dropping out of the university.

As the field of higher education has grown, student retention has become a very important means of improving graduation rates, increasing alumni, and decreasing the loss of tuition dollars. While there are lots of different student retention strategies, it’s easy to misuse resources without the data to show which students need the most help.

By using student retention software, university administrators can better identify where at-risk students are and which retention strategies to implement. Dropout Detective from AspirEDU examines student performance metrics and accurately identifies students who are at-risk of dropping out. The software works seamlessly with the university’s LMS of choice, and presents results in an easy-to-use dashboard for staff and administrators.

By focusing efforts on student retention, universities can maintain profitable operations, maintain accreditation status, and help more students get the benefits of a higher education. To find out how AspirEDU can work with you to increase your student retention rates, request a demo of our software solutions today.

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Student Retention Strategies

There are many types of student retention strategies that a university can adopt. In general, universities that maintain an updated, written retention plan can have the most success in this area. In addition, hiring a dedicated retention specialist to maintain this plan is strongly recommended.

Depending on the unique needs of a university and what you can see from your student data, different kinds of student retention strategies may be required. More and more schools are implementing “first-year experience” classes to keep students engaged and better prepare them for the demands of their education.

The perception that the university “doesn’t care” is one of the major reasons students cite when leaving school. To encourage universities to form a stronger connection with their students, some retention strategies include:

  • Calling/emailing at-risk students
  • Scheduling students to meet with instructors or advisors
  • Setting up students with study groups or tutoring staff
  • Providing information about study habits, campus/online resources, etc.

Of course, knowing which students are at-risk for dropping out and when those students need help is half the battle. Easy-to-understand student performance metrics and data are critical to any student retention strategy, and in turn, the success of the university as a whole. Learn how our Dropout Detective software puts this data at your fingertips – enabling you to craft better student retention strategies.

By focusing efforts on student retention, universities can maintain profitable operations, maintain accreditation status, and help more students get the benefits of a higher education. To find out how AspirEDU can work with you to increase your student retention rates, request a demo of our software solutions today.

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Cost of Student Attrition

Student attrition has a serious impact on the sustainability of a university. Consider the following scenario: If you have students paying $20,000 per year for classes, and five of them drop out, then the school lost $100,000. This loss compounded by:

  • The loss of other associated student fees such as housing, bookstore purchases, etc.
  • The cost to acquire new students to replace them
  • The lost value from an expanded alumni network who give back to the university and recommend it to other prospective students

The average school loses $9,910,811 in revenue from student attrition with most universities unable to graduate more than 50% of incoming freshman. Clearly, the cost of student attrition is a great problem faced by many universities. These figures reinforce the importance of well-developed student retention strategies based on cultivated student data.

By using student retention software from AspirEDU, you gain the ability to develop effective strategies in order to achieve key sustainability goals for your university. Using the data presented by our Dropout Detective, you can reduce student attrition rates and their associated revenue loss.

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Budget Constraints

It is not unusual to see that the departments within schools that are responsible for student success have limited budgets to purchase outside solutions. In many cases, these Student Success teams are charged with the costs of purchasing outside tools but do not receive credit for saving tuition dollars by keeping students in school. Using data from public sources like can allow schools to project a Return on Investment from a retention solution. uses available data to publish the “Cost of Attrition” at most public 2-year and 4-year colleges. Schools can use this data, compare it to the cost of a proposed solution and forecast the necessary retention increase to justify the expense. Current users of existing retention solutions like Dropout Detective can report on results so these projections can be used in budgeting.

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The Role of Faculty in Student Retention

One of the major reasons students leave a university is because they perceive that the university doesn’t care about them. While there are many types of staff members in higher education, none have more opportunities to engage with students than faculty members. As representatives of the university and role models for their students, faculty members have the most potential to impact a student’s decision to stay or leave and directly affect student retention rates.

By using data to proactively identify at-risk students, faculty members can focus their student retention efforts where they are needed most. The most effective type of engagement will vary between different students and faculty members. But, some good general guidelines are for faculty members to:

  • Encourage students and build their self-esteem
  • Give students the help that they need in order to be successful (office hours, tutoring services, etc.)
  • Actively demonstrate belief in the student’s ability to learn and be successful

Because faculty play such a critical role in student retention, periodic evaluation of faculty performance and engagement is necessary for effectively mitigating student attrition. Our Instructor Insight software helps administrators to identify instructors that are falling short of expectations, take action, and improve the working environment for faculty and students with a single solution. Please contact us to learn more about pro-actively managing faculty by observing their recent and long-term engagement in a course.

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Retention in Higher Education

Retention is becoming more important as schools realize that students have so many choices about where their money goes. Often times, the institution is its own worst enemy when it comes to retention goals. According to Dr. Neal Raisman, the four major reasons students give for their departure from higher education include:

  • The college doesn’t care about students
  • Students experience poor service and treatment
  • Universities fail to impart the value of higher education (students claim the tuition is “not worth it”)
  • Scheduling conflicts and not being able to find courses

When schools put their efforts toward data-backed student retention strategies, they show the student they care by reaching out and helping the student succeed. Actions such as this give the school the upper edge in the marketplace and they will attract more students.

Retention in higher education is an important consideration for maintaining revenue streams and increasing the satisfaction of students, but also for keeping accreditation status. By increasing student retention, it becomes one less area to worry about for the accreditation process. To find out how AspirEDU can work with you to address the challenges of retention in higher education, schedule a demo of our software today.

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