Higher education institutions are at risk of extinction and it has little to do with recruiting and attracting students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the overall college enrollment rate in 2019 was not measurably different from the rate in 2010 (~41% in both years). However, this overall consistency masks divergent trends in institution type and race/ethnicity.
Much of the recent attention in the news has been the 6.5% enrollment decrease since 2019. While this is important, retention has suffered more. Retention rates for 4-year institutions averaged 59% for full-time students in 2019-2020 (Univstats). For a 1,000-student freshman class, this means 65 students are lost in enrollment while 590 students are lost in retention. Universities must worry less about enrollment and focus on what’s preventing more than half of their students from graduating.
Students Aren’t Getting What They Need from Their University
What is your university doing to proactively support student success? Do you know if your students are getting the support they need when they need it? Largely, the traditional means of technology like student portals, chatbots, and AI are de-humanizing the student experience. Students want to know their university cares about them and is willing to help them when they need it most. Technology can’t deliver care and support. Only a human can.
Students are facing mounting pressure of time management, family demands, homesickness, personal health issues, anxiety, learning challenges, personal finances, and peer pressure all while trying to make the grade.
When a student recognizes they need help, they often give up if they can’t find a quick answer. Most universities have programs and resources to help students, but the programs and resources are not easy to find and require the student to schedule time with a counselor or advisor. When the time comes for the counseling session, it’s likely the problem has festered or another problem has taken priority.
The bottom line is that student retention issues are a result of delayed response times and lack of human-to-human support at the university.
How Universities Can Step Up
Universities must reimagine how their students are best supported and what the current generation needs to stay engaged and successfully graduate. For today’s students, universities must be able to meet students’ needs when they need it most, which is at the exact moment they realize they need help. This means having the right faculty available to help at any time.
Unfortunately, some faculty resist the concept of being available to help at a moment’s notice and prefer to have a predictable schedule. Other faculty prefer to keep limited times of the day open for students to drop in. University leadership must pave the path for faculty by setting a standard of support for students, which usually means making a higher level of service a strategic priority for the university’s student services functions. The change requires a change of heart and helping faculty understand just how much the mere existence of the university depends on improving how students are supported.
EVAN360 enables an improved student support experience by connecting students to faculty when they need it the most. If you’re curious how it works, we’ll make you a custom recorded demo tailored to your university. Request one here.