College graduation rates in the United States are somewhat discouraging. About 30% of students drop out of college after their first year. And 56% of students at four-year colleges and universities never graduate.
Reasons for dropping out vary from lack of financing to being unhappy with school experience. Both public and private universities across the country struggle to retain students. A variety of student retention strategies exists to address different issues that lead to dropping out.
Today, it’s possible to leverage technology to improve students’ college experience and keep them focused on getting a degree. Let’s take a closer look at how it can be done.
1. Connecting with students.
One of the key reasons behind student dissatisfaction with an educational institution is the lack of communication. Professors don’t have enough time to create a personalized learning program for each student. Meanwhile, students can’t always get quick answers to a variety of questions.
Setting up face-to-face meetings with each student is an impossible task. However, it’s possible to leverage technology to improve communication.
- Social media: Connecting with students through channels they use the most can help faculty answer a variety of questions without wasting their time. When students see your presence on social media, they are more willing to communicate.
- Messengers: WhatsApp, Viber, and similar free messenger apps are an excellent way to connect students and teachers. This type of communication doesn’t require immediate actions, giving professors time to respond.
- Online forums: Many students are afraid to ask questions in class but are more than willing to type them at home. By running online forums, you can allow students to work at their own pace while improving communication.
- Chatbots: AI-powered chatbots with access to the university’s knowledge base have the power to save a tremendous amount of time for both students and professors. The majority of questions student have is common. A high-quality program learns from experience and provides answers in real-time.
Just like with customer retention in business, retaining students requires close attention and high levels of personalization. Timely communication is the key to spotting “at-risk” students and helping solve problems in order to keep them in the university.
2. Collecting and Using Feedback
College and universities operate with statistics that provide common reasons for dropping out AFTER it happens. By collecting feedback from students while they are still in the university, it’s not only possible to single out “at-risk” individuals but improve the experience for the entire student body.
While you can ask students for their opinion in class, only a small percentage is ready to answer on the spot. You can leverage technology to collect valuable feedback by:
- Creating an online survey.
- Encouraging students to fill out surveys on the university’s website.
- Implementing surveys into online courses and learning apps.
Once you have the feedback in a digital format, you can use various tools to analyze it and get valuable insight into what can be changed to improve satisfaction and experience. Real-time analysis can help you act on the feedback as soon as possible.
3. Using Predictive Analytics
The pillar of student retention is prevention. By acting before a student becomes unsatisfied with the experience, it’s possible to prevent high dropout rates. Some universities take advantage of predictive analytics to gain insight into what problems students are likely to encounter.
By collecting dropout data and student feedback for several years, it’s possible to understand the main reason behind the low graduation rate at a particular university. Armed with this information, the administration can take preventive measures instead of reacting to something that already happened.
These actions may include:
- Making timely suggestions to switch courses.
- Offering financial aid opportunities.
- Providing extensive information about financing options.
- Improving communications and designing a more personalized approach.
For example, a consistent approach to data gathering and predictive analytics helped Georgia State University nearly double the graduation rate. By using the latest technologies, the administration analyzed 10-years’ worth of student records to come up with an effective retention tactic.
4. Revamping facilities and tech stack.
In the 21st century, students expect technologies to be a part of their education experience. By gaining access to technological facilities and useful software, students get an opportunity to improve their education process.
Universities can use technologies to provide:
- High-tech labs and other facilities.
- The latest equipment and hardware in classrooms (or at home for remote learning due to the pandemic or other factors)
- Specialized mobile apps to help students manage study time, connect with other students and tutors, find roommates, register for events, etc.
Some colleges attract students by giving out laptops and other digital devices. This can serve as a major incentive to stay in school since students need to give gadgets back if they drop out.
5. Taking full advantage of artificial intelligence.
By implementing AI-powered solutions, universities can improve student experience tremendously, thus increasing graduation rates. AI technology can:
- Create personalized course schedules.
- Automate the question and answer process for both students and faculty.
- Analyze the student’s previous learning history and suggest course changes to improve efficiency.
- Tutor students outside the classroom thus reducing time and expenses.
- Provide 24/7 access to learning for remote students
- Give students answers to popular questions in real-time.
Artificial intelligence technology is improving every year. By implementing it as soon as possible, universities can boost retention rates while becoming more attractive to prospective students.
Improving student retention with Capacity.
Leveraging the right technology is the key to high retention rates for academic institutions. From providing students the right devices and apps to employing AI for communication and analytics, universities all over the world are streamlining student retention strategies to improve the experience and reduce dropout rates.
By implementing the available educational technologies today, universities are taking a huge step toward improving retention in the future.
At Capacity, we focus on AI-powered solutions that can help enhance student-teacher communication, improve faculty productivity, and collect relevant student data.