Student retention is a critical issue in higher education. It not only affects the financial stability of institutions, but it also impacts the futures of the students themselves. In this blog post, we will be focusing on one specific solution to improving student retention: consolidating student success technology. If schools are able to start streamlining communication and support through the use of multiple technology solutions, colleges and universities can improve the retention rates of their students.
What is student retention?
Student retention in higher education refers to the percentage of students who remain enrolled in a college or university from one academic year to the next. It is often used as a measure of the effectiveness of an institution in retaining its student population. Factors that can affect student retention include academic performance, social integration, and satisfaction with the institution.
How do schools create retention strategies?
In considering retention systems, administrators usually examine the way students integrate academically and socially in the campus community. In other words, a retention strategy focused on these two areas is crucial for satisfaction and engagement of the individual students. The use of actionable plans for the identification of struggling students who need support and implementation of support programmes significantly increases student retention and student experience. How do retention strategies affect our ability to retain data/information?
We will be discussing various technologies such as learning management systems, student information systems, student support and advising platforms, and early alert and intervention systems, and how they can be used in concert to boost retention. All of these technologies try to enhance how students learn.
How can consolidating student success software can help improve student retention rates at colleges?
Consolidating various technology solutions can help streamline communication and support for students in several ways. By using a single platform for multiple functions which could easily integrate with LMS for course materials and communication with instructors and an SIS for student data management, students can easily access all the information they need in one place. This can help connect students to support services and eliminates the need for students to navigate multiple platforms and reduces confusion. This seamless and holistic approach to academic and student support would connect advisors, students (especially first generation students), tutors, SI instructors, counselors, and administrators all within the same interface. Classes and programs would not be limited to the services offered in campus – school’s could connect services across every campus which would increase progress.
Additionally, by using student success and advising platforms and early alert and intervention systems in conjunction, colleges and universities can create a more personalized support experience for students. This can lead to early identification of at-risk students and prompt interventions, increasing the chances of retention.
Furthermore, consolidating technology allows for better data tracking and analysis, exposing risk factors and the needs of their students and allowing them to make more informed decisions on how to improve retention.
How are other schools using software to increase student retention?
Real-life examples and case studies of schools which have successfully consolidated technology to increase student retention are plentiful.
Georgia State University (GSU)
For example, Georgia State University implemented a QuadC, a student success platform that integrated with their existing LMS and SIS. This allowed for a more seamless experience for students, as they were able to access all the resources they needed, such as academic advising, tutoring services and early alert and intervention, from one centralized platform. As a result, the university saw an increase in retention rates within the first year of implementation.Click here to the QuadC case study which expands upon this.
The University of Pittsburgh
Another example is The University of Pittsburgh, which implemented a QuadC, which increased student retention. This system integrated data from the pre-existing LMS and SIS programs in place and used multiple sources such as grades, attendance and student engagement, allowing instructors and advisors to identify at-risk students early and provide support. As a result, the college saw an increase in retention rates over a two-year period. Here is a link to the extended case study.
These are just a few examples of how consolidating technology can help institutions boost student retention rates, and it’s a trend that is becoming more prevalent in schools today.
Challenges and Considerations in Consolidating Technology
Consolidating technology within colleges and universities can bring many benefits to their student experiences and retention rate, but it also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. One potential challenge is the cost of implementing and maintaining multiple technology solutions at a school. Institutions must carefully budget and plan for the costs associated with new technology, including the initial implementation, training, and ongoing maintenance.
One of the other key areas of challenge is the integration of different systems, which can be complex and time-consuming. Institutions must ensure that the different systems can communicate and share data effectively in order to provide a seamless experience for students. Moreover, institutions need to consider the security and privacy of student data when consolidating technology solutions. Ensuring that data is protected from unauthorized access and breaches is crucial to maintaining the trust of students and faculty.
Overcoming Consolidation Challenges
To overcome these academic challenges, institutions and advisors can start by conducting a thorough needs assessment to determine which technology solutions are needed and how they can best be integrated. They can also seek out vendors and solutions that have experience with colleges and universities and have a proven track record of successful integrations.
Additionally, institutions can also invest in professional development and training for staff to ensure they are equipped to effectively use and maintain the new technology. By being proactive with early interventions and strategic in addressing these challenges, institutions can successfully consolidate technology to boost student retention and graduation rates.”
Looking to The Future
As we have seen, consolidating technology can be one of the most powerful student retention strategies in higher education. It allows institutions to streamline communication and support for students, allowing schools to help more students, leading to better retention rates.
We encourage institutions to consider this approach as they look for ways to improve student retention and enhance the success of their students for the future.
Consolidating technology can be a powerful solution for improving student retention. By integrating various technology solutions such as LMS, SIS, with a Student Support Software (such as QuadC) which offers Early Alert and intervention systems, institutions can watch out for warning signs and provide a more comprehensive and personalized support experience for students.
Real-life examples and case studies have shown that this approach can lead to significant increases in retention rates. However, consolidating technology also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations, such as cost and data security.
Institutions can overcome these challenges by conducting a thorough needs assessment, seeking out experienced vendors, and investing in professional development and training. By following these best practices, institutions can successfully consolidate technology to boost student retention and improve the success of their college and university students.
How can you evaluate if a vendor is experienced, or can meet your needs?
Here is a helpful checklist of questions to ask and needs you should not have to compromise on:
The student support software should be able to handle both a small and large number of students and support staff, and should be able to grow with your institution as your student population increases.
The software should be intuitive and easy to use for both students and staff. This will help to ensure that it is widely adopted and effectively utilized.
The software should allow for customization to meet the unique needs of your institution and support staff. Don’t get tied into a contract with a system that has a ‘take it, or leave it approach.’
The software should integrate with existing systems such as pre-existing SIS and LMS in place.
Reporting and Analytics:
The software should provide robust and customizable reporting and analytics capabilities, allowing you to track student engagement and progress, and make data-driven decisions.
The software should comply with all relevant data security regulations and should have robust security measures in place to protect student data.
Support and Training:
The software vendor should provide excellent customer support and training to ensure that your staff are able to effectively use and support the software.
Price and Budget:
The software should be affordable and fit within your budget constraints.
Reputation and Feedback:
The software should have a good reputation among the other universities and have positive feedback from the users.
Building upon the previous point, ask if the vendor can share a list of current and relevant clients (schools of a similar size) who would be willing to provide references?
The software should be accessible from both desktop and mobile devices and have possibly offer a mobile app for students and staff.
Helpful Resources for Student Retention
If your academic institution is interested in exploring this topic further, there are many resources available to help with or learn about student retention rates.
Organizations such as EDUCAUSE provide valuable information and resources on technology and student retention. EDUCAUSE is a non-profit association that serves as a community and resource for higher education IT leaders.. It is one of the largest and most respected organizations of its kind, and its mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. EDUCAUSE provides a wide range of services and resources to its members, including professional development opportunities, research and analysis, and a variety of publications and online resources. The organization also hosts an annual conference, which is one of the largest gatherings of higher education IT leaders in the world. Additionally, EDUCAUSE provides a platform for IT leaders to share best practices, collaborate on projects and initiatives, and stay informed about the latest trends and developments in the field of higher education technology. Overall, EDUCAUSE plays a critical role in helping higher education institutions leverage technology to improve student learning, enhance research, and streamline operations.
Another organization higher ed professionals can trust is the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) is a professional association for higher-ed administrators in student affairs and services. Its mission is to provide professional development, resources, and advocacy for student affairs professionals with the goal of promoting student success. NASPA’s membership includes student affairs professionals at all levels of education, including 2 year colleges, 4 year colleges and universities, and graduate and professional programs. The organization offers a variety of resources and services to its members, including professional development opportunities, networking events, and a large body of research and knowledge on best practices in student affairs. Additionally, NASPA also serves as an advocate for the profession and for student affairs issues at the national level.
Additionally, many vendors of technology solutions for higher education offer consulting services to help institutions plan and implement technology consolidation projects.
Institutions can also consult with their peers and other experts in the field to learn about best practices and successful case studies.
By taking advantage of these resources, institutions can make informed decisions about technology consolidation and improve student retention.