Successful Student Retention: 3 Reasons to Change Your Mind. Every college and university should strive to attract, retain, and graduate more students. You want those things for your institution if you’re reading this.

In this short article, I’ll discuss three reasons why you should rethink your current retention efforts and how to improve them.

Reason #1: current efforts aren’t moving the needle.

“If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting,” as the adage goes.

According to a recent National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, despite the president’s preaching, legislatures’ legislating, and foundations’ funding, the nation’s six-year graduation rate has remained unchanged. Six years after enrolling in college for the first time in 2007, 54% of students had a certificate or degree to show for it, the same as the previous year.

Increased federal and state government concerns, new rules and regulations, and changes in accreditation standards are shining a bright light on this issue. Students and their families can now quickly learn about the retention rates of the colleges and universities to which they are applying. Admissions officers are having a difficult time overcoming this recruitment issue.

Reason #2: Your retention efforts are already costing you money.

As one of the presidents put it, “I waste half of the money I spend on retention. The issue is that I’m not sure which half it is!”

Your organization spends money on various programs that are dispersed across many departments and challenging to track. Many of these efforts are uncoordinated and may work in opposition to one another. To make matters worse, faculty and staff may see these initiatives as just another burden that will go away if they are ignored. Committees are formed, data is gathered, and meetings are held in this context. New initiatives, pilot programs, and advertising campaigns come and go with little impact on outcomes.

More resources aren’t always the answer to achieving better results. Innovation leads to a more focused and systematic approach, which is the solution. This necessitates a shift in mindset from problem-solving to actual transformational change.

Reason #3: It’s worth the effort to cultivate a graduation-focused culture.

Consider your campus a few years from now, when retention and graduation rates have improved dramatically. What else could be unique?

Revenue increases; upper-level classes are filled; faculty and staff morale improves; the institution’s reputation improves; and, most importantly, more students are on the path to a successful life.

Leadership focus, campus engagement, and persistence are required to improve your institution’s ability to attract, retain, and graduate more and better students. As people begin to develop and apply systems thinking to seemingly intractable problems, it necessitates “doing things differently.” When there is a clear vision of what can be accomplished, innovation can flourish. The long-term benefits of a genuinely graduation-focused culture outweigh the number of students who graduate.

Let’s be clear: none of these positive developments will occur overnight. There will be work involved, pushing you and your team outside of their comfort zones. However, if you are willing to take the initiative, the rewards will be well worth it.

That’s all about Successful Student Retention: 3 Reasons to Change Your Mind.

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