Strategies for Improving Student Retention as Detailed in Hanover Research

One of the significant challenges that modern colleges contend with is the capacity to retain students in respective programs until graduation. Therefore, contemporary colleges are increasingly compelled to craft operative strategies for retaining their admitted students. Some strategies that colleges use to support rejection efforts are presented by Hanover Research (2014) in their report “strategies for improving student retention.” The report details standard retention practices that American and Canadian higher education institutions use to maintain their student populations and strategies that are directed towards the retention of specific student population segments.

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The report is partitioned into two sections. The first section addresses institution-wide retention strategies, prevailing shortfalls in retention strategies, key aspects that influence retention, and precise retention strategies that three North American Universities employ. The second section presents various strategies and trends for the retention of first-year students and students of specific ethnic origin, predominantly aboriginal and Francophone students. Both sections of the report refer to real-world examples of retention efforts in existent institutions.

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            There are multiple reasons why students may stop pursuing their college degrees. Three common reasons are attributed to lack of funds, lacking sociological connection with the institution environment, and poor secondary school preparation. Financial problems and lack of financial funding are perhaps the most primary predictors of dropping out. Financial problems are traced to the loss of jobs either by the student or their guardian. According to LendEDU, a student loan refinancing institution, a more significant percentage of students drop out of school due to a lack of funding. Another significant share of students who encounter financial issues but do not drop out delays their graduation due to monetary constraints. The cost of college plays a critical role in financial issues that students face, as the average cost of tuition fees in 2018 was $34,740 at private colleges, $25,620 for out-of-state residents that attend public universities, and $9970 for state residents that attend public universities. The high burden of student loans across America provides evidence of financial factors in drop-out rates (Duque2017). The lack of social connectedness with the institutional environment is also a critical factor in drop-out rates. Tinto argues that social integration and commitment to a college institution constitute significant aspects of persistence (Schuh, Jones& Harper, 2010). Positive social connections enhance bonding with other students and staff, while negative social links create disparities and increase withdrawal chances. Lack of social connectedness and financial issues are exacerbated by poor secondary school preparation. Most high schools do not prepare students for higher education coursework. This causes a sense of shock and overwhelming overload when they join college.

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            Hanover Research (2014) proposes several strategies to assist students who stop pursuing degrees, including academic support, frequent assessment and feedback, and student engagement. Concerning academic support, Hanover Research (2014) refers to Tinto’s proposal to improve classroom practices by defining expectations. Clearly defined expectations can help students maintain realistic expectations and make places accordingly to cope with competing demands in college. Faculty members are encouraged to provide transparent information about assignments, examinations, course requirements, and projects. Academic support should be manifested through the alignment of assistance with daily learning expectations. Frequent feedback and assessment can keep students informed about their progress and allow involved parties to fine-tune their actions following the anticipated standards. Finally, institutions should engage students to influence their success and persistence. This could be done through community-building activities and involvement in group projects. Cohort models are suitable for fostering the progression of communities and groups. Student engagement initiatives should take into account faculty in their structure. When students engage positively and effectively with faculty, they are likely to feel accommodated and supported, thereby boosting their resilience and persistence in their program. Instructional advising skills and evidence of teaching experience are instrumental in fostering an engagement-ready faculty. Hence, colleges need to train their instructors and invest in continuous professional development. Professional development opportunities offer the chance to improve instructional effectiveness through training and the use of technology in interacting with students.             In conclusion, the current activity has informed the author’s ideas concerning the role that they play in supporting student retention efforts.

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To begin with, it has imparted practical knowledge regarding student success and retention theories. It is intriguing to discover that college drop-out can be linked to sociological, psychological, and economic factors. The discovery of these underlying domains helps the author trace the fundamental capacities within which key issues exist and possible avenues of addressing those issues. Educators are at a focal point in crafting retention efforts as they act as liaisons between students and the education system. Not only are instructors expected to engage with students but also to improve the engagement level of students while supporting them academically throughout their courses and programs. Instructors should gauge student learning capacities at an early stage and regularly. They should identify students who need help and notify advisors when concerns arise. For example, they could note students who have low scores and missing assignments and use these factors as risks to drop-out possibilities. Instructors should also seek professional development to enhance their skills and teaching excellence.

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