Student Retention Begins With You

By Bruce A. Johnson, Ph.D., MBA

When you hear the phrase student retention, what comes to mind? Is it a set of numbers that the school hopes to achieve? Is it something to be addressed from a school-wide perspective, which is beyond your control? Or do you consider the impact that you have upon student retention for the school? It is easy to view student retention, student satisfaction, and student persistence as a responsibility of the school that should be addressed through initiatives, proper course development, student support, and other relative issues. While it is important for any school to be concerned about the rate of retention and the policies that support student satisfaction, it is just as important to remember that instructors represent the school through their classroom interactions with students.

Students interact with a learning environment that is created by the instructor and supported by the school. If students do not have a positive experience or meaningful classroom interactions they are likely to develop a negative perception about the school, which can also have a direct bearing on their decision to continue with their degree program. Student retention begins with the initial instructor that is assigned for

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4 Comments for “Student Retention Begins With You”

  1. The book “Voluntary Student Clubs” demonstrates the impact of student organizations on retention rates.

  2. When it comes to retention. I myself know all too well how it seemed difficult to remember anything they were trying to teach me in school. Obviously it has to do with interest. Why would we retain something we did not see a use for or interest in. So I thought I had a learning disability, but that was only the limits they tried to put on me. Years later I now work in a law firm. Now there is an endless supply of things that I enjoy retaining, but its what I was most interested in. Thanks

  3. Hello Sharon: Thank you for the comment. I certainly understand your frustration and the challenge of engaging students in the process of learning. It seems that you are very pro-active in your class facilitation and this would have a positive impact on their classroom experience. Are you facilitating an entry-point class? I’ve noticed that the drop rate is highest for entry-point classes as those students are facing the reality of being in school now and their expectations meet the expectations of the school. I’m certain that your students appreciate the time and effort you put into your class. Wishing you the best, Dr. J

  4. I agree to some degree, but my biggest frustration is sometimes the students who only come to 2 classes and then drop out or come so infrequently that it’s difficult to build a report with them. I call them and e-mail them to let them know that I’m still available, but I can’t make some students show up for class. And if it all comes down to the “first” impression on the first day of class, that’s an extremely tall order to fulfill. I try to be as engaging as I can on the first day, but some still decide to drop. In fact, the drop rate is still about 40% overall. The student’s lives at the CC college are very complicated. I couldn’t attempt to do all of the things they are trying to juggle.

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