Any business needs customer loyalty and not just great traffic, if it has to be truly successful. The same holds true for colleges as well. Attracting an impressive number of students or bagging tons of applications is not enough. You need to retain them as well. Often, students tend to drop out when they realize they have signed up for the wrong major, don’t have bright job prospects, are stuck with financial problems, are having a hard time fitting in, and so on. To address such issues, make students feel happy and confident, and boost student retention, there are a few things you can take seriously.
- First impressions matter – This means giving your website an extra edge (often, students start from there), incorporating chatbots that can handle question and inquiries during off-office hours too, sending heartfelt welcome emails when a student is accepted, and creating fun and informative videos and sharing them on social media pages, to name a few. The best strategies for improving student retention from the start is to make your website easy to navigate, include brilliantly shot images of your campus, lecture halls and facilities, and investing in a virtual tour to give potential students a realistic feel for your institution even before they step inside. Providing powerful call to action buttons that let them contact you, apply, or ask questions.
- Show that you care – Monitoring the progress of your students from the first day is a great way to detect their strengths and weaknesses. This can help you draft personalized emails every week or month, which encourage them to do better or show them ways in which they can overcome challenges or improve their grades. It is a smart way to improve student retention rates. Make sure you provide clear and constructive feedback that tells them what resources to consult or how to prepare better for tests. Use fun and engaging visuals like memes or GIFs if need be, to forge a friendly bond.
- Make lessons exciting – Wherever possible, include games or role play to make lessons interactive, interesting and easy to retain. Use visual aids like infographics, colorful graphs and charts, slides and videos to make tough concepts easier to process. Use virtual tours to allow students to explore things that would otherwise be difficult or super expensive, like exploring oceans, exotic national parks, industrial activities, sophisticated medical experiments and so on. Virtual reality is also perfect for letting students tinker with lifelike situations or problems and learn, without causing placing them in a dangerous situation with any real harm or side effect. These are effective tips to boost college student retention.
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- Use modern communication techniques – Prompt and seamless communication is the key to better student engagement. So, use texting or WhatsApp messaging to keep your students informed about lesson plans, quizzes, events, results and more. Let them get in touch with the faculty through these channels, so they can receive fast replies to doubts and queries. You can create an online forum as well, where students and faculty members can virtually meet, exchange ideas, learn and teach, and feel free. This way, even those who usually shy away from interaction in class might open up.
- Go the extra mile – Remember that your college is more than just a place for learning, it will become home for a student who decides to spend a few years in a new environment and prepare for an independent life. So, to improve student retention rates, try to focus on their mental and social wellbeing as well, by arranging counselling sessions, implementing a buddy system, setting up soft skill and networking workshops, or motivating them to participate in community events. Offer them a platform to speak their mind freely, without compromising privacy or inviting judgment. This can help them do better in academics too and feel safe and valued. Make sure you endorse diversity so that students from different regions or countries can feel at par.
Boosting your college’s student retention can be a piece of cake if you keep the above pointers in mind and keep an open mind. All you need is a bit of creativity, empathy and foresight, so that you can identify those at risk of leaving your institution early on and intervene. And if you are looking for ways to make your online presence or lectures more exciting and immersive with visuals, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.