Student Retention – A Challenge!

Today, education must be viewed as not only of some importance but of fundamental importance for the people of any country that want to compete in a global and competitive environment.

Gone are the days when a high school diploma could get one an entry level job that pays him or her a livable wage. Now, that’s no longer the case as six out of every ten jobs require some form of postsecondary education and training.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons - Student Graduation.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Student Graduation.

Consequently, enrollment in postsecondary education and the completion of a degree is no longer optional but a must.

That said, colleges and universities in the United States continue to be plagued with the problem of student retention. In fact, the average retention rate of all U.S. colleges is 65.7% and there has not been any significant improvement over the years.

Now, with the continuing decline in retention rates, increasing education costs, questions regarding the quality of education, low graduation rates, and accountability demands by the public and government, student success and retention planning have become more compelling.

Central to any student success and retention plan, however, must be a ‘buy in’ and motivation of all stakeholders. Teachers in particular play a vital role in driving this process and could easily be dubbed the engine of retention. This, therefore, means that they must be incentivized for the crucial role they are expected to play in any retention program that is to be taken seriously.

In addition, in dealing with the issues surrounding student success and retention it is important that a multi-faceted and holistic approach be taken in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

Critical and integral to the process is the gathering of quantitative and qualitative data to be used to provide insights into all initiatives or steps taken to solve the problems.

Programs and strategies implemented should also be routinely evaluated  to assess whether adjustments or revisions need to be made as well as appropriate reinforcement where necessary.

Ultimately, the challenge for all stakeholders is to share in the ownership of student success and retention and to develop strategies for the best possible outcome.

By Yvad Billings, The Readers Bureau, Fellow