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Why your students drop out – and how you can stop them

One of the biggest challenges for colleges and universities is dropout rates. Over 30% of students drop out before their second year, with a total average dropout rate of 40%. This is not only a problem for the students that drop out, but also the institutions. While students end up not getting a degree and often with a financial debt, institutions see their reputation and revenue suffer from dropouts. How can you improve the student retention rate?

To answer that question, first we need to look into what causes students to drop out. According to EducationData.org, in 38% of cases, students drop out because of financial pressure. Living costs in student areas are ever increasing, resulting in students unable to finance their education without any financial assistance. Then there is dropping out because of academic underachievement which accounts for 28% of cases. There are a number of causes which lead to academic underachievement.

Student dropouts

In order to achieve the minimum pass mark and eventually graduate, students need to be more than just ‘smart enough’. Often other factors such as motivation and pressure can play a part in underachievement.

Most dropouts occur amongst first year students, a time when students find out if their course is a good fit for them. Going to college or university marks a new phase in the life of every student. A new living environment, financial independence and high workload are all difficult to adjust to.

A poor social fit is another issue students may encounter. Difficulty making new friends and not getting along with other students, can make students feel lonely. Combine that with a new living environment, maybe even the first time away from home, and students will be less motivated to work hard. If they struggle financially as well, that may well lead to them dropping out.

Motivated & supported

Students need to be motivated and feel supported in order to be successful. When they start experiencing problems or if they have to face difficult challenges, their peers are the first people your students will go to. If that is not enough or students do not feel comfortable going to their peers, they will ask the institution for help. It is up to you to make that help easily accessible for all of your students.

Think about what your students are struggling with and how you can support them. Make sure departments such as student services, the well-being team and the IT service desk are accessible in a way that is convenient for your students. In that way you are able to keep your students supported and motivated at all times!

Do you need help figuring out how to keep your students supported and motivated during their studies? We’re happy to help!