Higher Education

Why Instruction Outside of The Classroom is So Important In Higher Ed

Higher education enrollment continues to be down. Colleges and universities risk losing students as they face the challenges of recession times. “College enrollment declines appear to be worsening,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. 

instruction outside of the classroom

Educators aim to attract students to enroll in their undergraduate programs. Successful schools create a culture that supports students to stay through to graduation. A foundation of higher education culture is value-added instruction outside of the classroom. 

Students benefit with a wide range of instruction and support outside the classroom. Elements such as tutoring, workshops, events, student advisors and writing departments all have a role to play. These elements are often managed through student support services. 

Institutions incorporate these learning opportunities and touchpoints to develop strong relationships with students. The relationship between students and the establishment is key to student success. In higher education a students’ sense of belonging, partnership, and inclusion are essential for success. This requires schools to enable full and fair participation of all students in higher education.

Focusing on student access, retention, attainment, and progression supports a high-quality graduate outcome making the school attractive to new recruits. 

Beyond The Classroom—Supporting Higher Education Students to Succeed 

Schools understand that instruction doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. This isn’t a revolutionary idea. Outside learning and support are integral to creating a successful experience for students. Students who receive support outside the classroom perform better than those who don’t. Students’ success depends on creating a culture of engagement, belonging, inclusion, and fostering their connection to their field of study.  

It’s critical to know why students leave. Some students feel the academic pressure is too much. The feeling of overwhelm can quickly lead to a student dropping out if the right supports aren’t provided.

A student may leave due to financial difficulty if they don’t have access to financial support and information. Social factors, isolation and disconnection may drive them away. There are many reasons why a student may start slipping. What’s key is that schools incorporate a system and culture that taps into each student. If there are problems, they want to see them before it’s too late. This way they can offer appropriate support to keep the student engaged. The instruction and support each student needs will vary. Students may need access to financial information, help with academics, to find a tutor, to talk with an academic advisor or even get mental health support. 

Supporting students outside the classroom is a worthwhile thing. Let’s look at 5 proven ways to support students and improve retention.

Define Student Success

Students don’t easily understand what success in higher education looks like, and what resources are available to help them. Educators can share their vision of success with students and set expectations. When goals are defined, students can take actionable steps to reach them.

When expectations are clear it’s easier to track when students are not meeting them. Support can be offered at appropriate and timely intervention points. Higher education can set challenging expectations for students combined with programs that support a student’s achievement.

Colleges and universities can use technology to guide students through their educational journey. Students can track their progress, connect with teachers, tutors, and other student support services. Creating accessible support helps students stay on track. School administrators are better able to see who is falling behind and reach out with support.

New Student Workshops and Events

Outside of the classroom new students rely on student success centers for study and skills training they don’t receive in class. The student success center supports students through their academic experience. It helps to keep them engaged and enrolled through to graduation. Introducing students to the student success center as soon as possible is key. 

Design student orientation programs both in person and online. Events that are accessible, engaging, and sustainable reach a wider body of students. Often the students that need the most support are also the ones who need autonomy on how they receive it. 

Events outside of the classroom develop relationships between the institution and the student. They also give students an opportunity to build relationships with peers. The social well-being of students is vital to their success. Workshops and events are a great way to help students connect and get in the mindset of asking for help.


Coursework in higher education is challenging for students. They’re pushed well outside of their academic comfort zone. Students need study habits and writing techniques that support these new expectations. 

Many schools organize a tutoring service for their students. Connecting students with tutors aligned with their studies and struggles has a significant impact.

Tutors support students in person and online. Tutoring departments are interconnected with many other services. Tutors can help students develop work and study habits, writing techniques, and help them stay organized and on track. Tutors can be specialized on specific topics and are often past graduates, so they’re a relatable connection.

These days the tutoring department is a critical element of the student success center. Tutors help to improve students grades and as a result, this directly impacts retention and attainment rates. Tutor departments are good for the broader goals in higher education.

Student Advisors 

Student advisors are an integral part of higher education. Advisors connect with students to help them. They also assist in monitoring a student’s academic progress. Students need to make decisions about course load and class schedules. Advisors understand the school policies and procedures. They’re familiar with the prerequisites students should consider before making changes. They can help students make the best decisions, so they stay on track to their desired outcomes.

The school faculty has an important task to get struggling students the support and resources they need. Many schools have an early alert system in place to help with this. They want to spot at-risk students before it’s too late. When student advisers are proactive, student retention and graduation rates improve.  

Advisors are there to help the students achieve their goals. They connect students with the resources and tools they need. They connect students with other departments such as tutoring, writing, and financial services. Advisors help coach students through the challenges of higher education. They’re a key part of the culture of an institution that embraces access and support.

Writing Departments

One of the most beneficial departments students have access to in higher education is the writing department. Students who are new to higher education quickly learn that academic writing style is very different to what they know. They also quickly realize they’re writing a lot more than they used to.

The writing department provides writing support to students outside of the classroom. Students can develop strong writing skills that support their academic performance. Through the writing department students have access to writing workshops, tools, and resources.  

Higher Education Students Don’t Want to Drop Out

A lot of discussion right now is focused on retention. Universities and colleges want to keep their students engaged, enrolled, and looking forward to life after higher education. Students want to perform well and graduate. 

Colleges and universities are communities full of ways to support students. Schools consider student access, retention and attainment. Potential new students do too.

When a new student is considering attending a college or university they want to know, “How does the school make me feel?”, and “Will I be supported to succeed?” 

Schools can increase learning and support opportunities outside of the classroom to strengthen the relationship they have with students. Good faculty and student relationships is key to student success.

Instruction outside of the classroom is essential in higher education because it provides a range of services that help students succeed. Instructions are tailored to each student and can include academic advising, tutoring, writing, financial aid, and career services. 

Learning outside of the classroom helps a student persist through to graduation. Investing in programs that enhance the experience of the student and the culture of the school is wise. These programs help students succeed in school, which leads to better outcomes after graduation. In addition, student support services help build a sense of community on campus, which can lead to increased enrollment and retention rates.

Instruction outside the classroom is essential in higher education. It’s become part of the framework for universities and colleges leading the way. Leaders in higher education provide a wide range of programs and services that can help students succeed in their studies. Not only do students succeed, but schools are also more attractive to new recruits when they focus on ways to support students’ success. Without these services, many students struggle and become at risk.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to develop your student success center, we’ve developed The Ultimate Guide To Managing Student Success Centers. We explain it all, and share useful tools and technologies to help you with early alert systems, insightful data reporting, and effective meeting tools.

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