Student Retention Strategy
Are you looking to increase enrollment at your higher education institution? Increase student retention and graduation rates? Do you want to improve student satisfaction? Would you like to avoid the high costs associated with attrition?
Forward Analytics provides marketing research and strategic planning to higher education institutions. Our full-service consulting firm offers an integrated approach to help you unlock timely answers to the type of questions raised above.
We offer custom research capable of targeting the entire student lifecycle, from pre-matriculation to post-graduation. Our research helps you build a successful marketing strategy that identifies the key behaviors related to choosing a school and staying at a school. We also provide measurement of student satisfaction to retain your current students as well as help you identify the values needed to attract new students. Once in place this strategy directly impacts your institutions' bottom line.
There are many factors that have been found to influence student retention and to be strongly associated with student persistence. These factors include initial student commitments, student characteristics, peer support, involvement in the institution's academic life, and frequency and quality of faculty-student interaction. With an increased understanding of why some students persist and others do not, strategies for improving college student retention can be devised to enable more students to succeed in reaching their educational goals. Individuals as well as institutions benefit from finding ways to improve student retention. A closer examination of these variables shows that their influence on student retention varies substantially among institutions. Practices that have increased student persistence at one institution cannot be automatically applied at other institutions.
Measurements that Return Bottom Line Results
Forward Analytics conducts on-going survey research (quarterly, biannually), measuring student satisfaction, attitudes and behaviors. Our freshman retention study begins immediately after matriculation and track needs and satisfaction throughout the critical first year. Our research measures determine which factors in the organization correlate to student persistence or withdrawal.
Beyond the freshman year, administrators need to continue to investigate the specific, unique factors influencing retention at their higher education institution and to analyze the specific qualities and characteristics of their own students. The most beneficial and effective retention programs are those that are developed over time and are based on coordinated activities of continuous research, evaluation, and policy development.
There are three general levels of retention efforts that both institutions and students can employ: the student level, the institutional level, and the community level. At the student level students must be challenged to develop both academic and non-academic skills that they need for college. At the institutional level teachers and administrators need to participate in behaviors that facilitate persistence and program completion. In addition, institutions must make commitments to students by providing financial assistance. The community level incorporates businesses, which form partnerships with colleges in order to assist at-risk students.
Example Studies of Student Retention, Satisfaction, and Attrition Research
Many higher education institutions use multiple strategies to increase student retention rates. Multiple strategies might include combining orientation programs, mentoring programs, and faculty training. Allegheny Community College proposed a multiple strategy to improve retention. Activities included establishing a women's center, conducting freshman seminars to promote relationships among students and faculty, creating college funded work-study programs for on-campus employment, beginning faculty development programs, and creating additional student organizations.
Non-Returning Student Survey. This Survey is essential in determining which factors determine withdrawal. Mail, telephone, or online surveys are conducted in order to obtain extensive quantitative and qualitative data from non-returning students. The survey asked respondents to cite all of their reasons for not continuing at ACC, their most important reason for not returning, and whether their main reason for not returning was either permanent or temporary.
Some of the respondents indicated "personal reasons" for not returning to ACC such as a lack of connection to the College or feeling "invisible" on campus. These are reasons the College can address through retention strategies that help integrate students both academically and socially at the College.
Online Marketing Technology for Student Retention and Satisfaction
Forward Analytics' online surveys and email templates can help provide measurable and efficient communications in support of your retention strategy. We design and deliver customized email messages to aid student awareness and create an open and ongoing dialog. Through the use of database queries, we can serve custom templates do different audiences (i.e., non-traditional students, high GPA students, or scholarship students.) Our ability to segment your student population and send personalized HTML or rich media messages combined with immediate feedback from online survey techniques make Forward Analytics' student retention services a valuable and cost-effective solution to understand attrition and maintain class enrollment. As an example, please take our online survey.
Pre-Matriculation Student Questionnaire
Forward Analytics conducts market research to determine a current measure of brand awareness, image and perceived value relating to your higher education institution and its programs and services. See Higher Education Research for a detailed explanation.
By employing a Pre-Matriculation Student Questionnaire, our research will determine the following:
Forward Analytics' research provides the information necessary for your higher education institution to make informed strategic business decisions right down to individual market segments. Our student retention studies and college satisfaction surveys provide both a quantitative and qualitative framework on which to build a solid marketing and communications strategy. Not only will these products have an immediate impact on your bottom line, but also will ensure a confident and accurate message moving forward.
Growth and retention are the keys to economic prosperity for all higher education institutions.
In support of these goals, we can deliver:
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