Your college or university wants to deliver the best programs, care, and attention to its students, and so one of your primary pressing concerns will no doubt be how to increase graduation rates.
The end goal of any post-secondary educational institution is going to be student graduation, with its promise of a brighter future and better life. But what happens if a student doesn’t make it to graduation? What is stopping them? And what comes next – after graduation – for the student? How to increase college retention is difficult.
In this article, we explore why students drop out, how we can prevent dropout with services like college admissions consulting, and what else can be done to help students become the people they want to be.
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Student Graduation Rates - The Stats
There are many factors to consider when it comes to student dropout rates, including raw rates and averages and different demographics. Underlying problems cannot be addressed if we don’t know the true causes, and that means taking a look at some numbers.
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Education Data keeps track of dropout rates in the US. While numbers vary from country to country, we’ll take a close look at some of these data.
Pure numbers have college dropouts at 39,040,099 in a recent year. For first-year students, the dropout rate was 24.1%.
First-year Students Dropout Rate:
Demographic Information for Dropouts
The hard fact is that post-secondary dropout rates are not equal across demographic groups, and some are more affected than others.
Research.com reports: (using data from ThinkImpact in a recent year)
Impact of Dropout
It’s also important to note that dropping out has a direct impact on students’ futures. Among college dropouts, the unemployment rate was 17% higher than the national average. Institutions are also affected directly by the dropout rate.
More dropouts also means less tuition, and while it would be cynical to reduce this problem to monetary gain, the fact is, according to Education Data, that $16.5 billion is lost due to dropouts. That is money that educational institutions could use, but it also represents wealth that students have wasted on tuition. A loss of capital is not good for either institutions or students.
Why Do Students Fail to Graduate?
Lack of Funds
One of the most common reasons given by students for leaving higher education is a lack of funds. Tuition is expensive, not everybody qualifies for scholarships or wins awards, and family might not have the cash on hand to ensure a student’s place at your institution.
Lack of Support Structures or Family Structures
College is difficult, and family, friendship, and other social support structures will make a big difference in a student’s life, particularly for first year students, who are particularly vulnerable to the pressures associated with the new experiences of college life. Furthermore, if these freshmen harbor misconceptions regarding campus life and emphasize the less-academic aspects of university – parties, for example – they might wind up burning out, or being unable to keep up with their institution’s demands of them.
Overburdened Education Systems
Not all high schools are created equal. Some equip their students to head off to university, and some do not. Of course, some also receive great amounts of funding and support, while others do not, so this is not a judgment on any high school or other institution. If anything, this is an acknowledgment that greater funding is required for these educational facilities to ensure that everybody has the same shot at university, both in the application and in the follow-through.
This is particularly troubling to us at BeMo, as we believe that everybody deserves a fair chance of getting into the post-secondary institution they want, and we make it our goal to help students accomplish exactly that. Whether you’re looking at medical school application help, graduate school application help, college and university admissions consulting, or anything else from nursing school to dental school, our goal is to help you achieve your goals.
Unprepared for Rigors of Post-Secondary Academia
In conjunction with an overburdened education system, or independently, some students are simply not prepared for the increased burden from high school to post-secondary education and do not have the reading or writing skills to keep up. ThinkImpact’s data suggest that some 25% of college students were not adequately prepared for the jump to post-secondary education.
Unfocused: Why Am I in College?
With college as a kind of necessity or default mode in every student’s head, many arrive at institutions of higher learning without truly understanding who they are or where they want to go in life. They are aimless, without a particular goal in mind. They only know that they want a degree, not why they want the degree.
As a result, they might start off university in a major or a program they do not like or understand – one which does not inspire them and in which they see no future.
This lack of self-understanding, this lack of an end goal, results in a myriad of other problems. Students who have no real long-term plan will lack motivation and focus. They won’t care to have the discipline to continue, and their energy and enthusiasm will be low.
Another problem stemming from a lack of focus is poor selection of institution. If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t choose the optimal place to study, or an institution that is right for you. This is exactly what happens to a large number of students every year: they do not have a goal and so they do not care which school they go to. But schools are more than just places with reputations for programs; they have different curricula, approaches to learning, goals, mottos, mission statements, and environments. If the student has made their decision without caring about the long term, it’s unlikely they will have thought through any of this.
Tight Deadlines and High Pressure
There is a reason that first year students are more likely to drop out than others: in an unfamiliar environment, they’re left to realize that if they don’t perform well in a matter of roughly three months, they could fail out and be done. When they do realize this, the pressure will mount, along with the ensuing poor performance, bad grades, more pressure, inactivity, and so on in a vicious cycle.
It’s tough to find the right balance between study time, downtime, and part-time jobs to thrive at a post-secondary institution. Data from College Quarterly state that 54% of dropouts from college cited finding a balance between work and studies to be a factor in their leaving college.
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How to Increase Graduation Rates
With so many factors to consider, from the pressures of education to demographics, how is your institution supposed to help students stay on to lower your dropout rate and increase your graduation rate? You will need a dedicated push in several areas, and you might need some external help.
At BeMo, we consider this to be a surmountable problem we can help with, starting with expert tips and strategies, and continuing with services that can directly, and profoundly, impact your student body. A student is more likely to continue with studies knowing that will be helped.
With many students unprepared for the rigor of higher academia, they will need academic support. Being able to offer services along these lines will greatly improve your graduation rate. You need professional-level services which can accommodate the size of your student body and can really grant focused help to the students who require it.
BeMo can help here, as we offer services of exactly this nature. Whether helping with personal statements, how to write a college essay, graduate school admissions consulting, or study habits, we know how to take a student from a nadir of studiousness to their zenith. Our services and resources help students learn how to write and how to study, which will carry over for them from the first time we assist until they graduate – and beyond. Learning how to write papers will serve students in good stead for life, since excellent written communication is welcome in all professions, and – with the mainstreaming of social media platforms – daily, personal life, as well. Study habits will, likewise, be useful throughout each student’s academic career and beyond because the ability to glean good, relevant information and separate it from bad is becoming more and more useful in today’s climate of misinformation.
A Future in Academia
BeMo can also help prepare students for further studies or in applying to graduate school to obtain their master’s degree or doctorate. Not only can we help students get into the graduate program of their dreams, but we can also help with thesis writing services or offer grad school essay tutors. So, if your institution hosts graduate programs, we can be of use to your graduate students in addition to your undergrads.
Post-graduation is always a strange transitional time for students as well. We can help with internships or setting students on the right path to career advancement by exploring how to find a job in academia or how to find a job after grad school. Our career support will help, whether with a foot in the door or a promotional opportunity.
How does post-graduation help to increase your graduation rates?
It’s a matter of hope. This addresses the sense of aimlessness in students who get swept up in a kind of academic undertow, where they feel like there is no future for them at any advanced academic institution. If they know that they have a better shot at a career, even just a bit of a push or a small head start, they will be far more likely to stay the course, knowing that there is a good destination awaiting them.
Graduation rates can be strongly affected by financial support. As we mentioned, one of the most common factors for students who drop out is finances. Connecting students with as many bursaries and scholarships as possible is the best way to cope with this problem at the institutional level. For example, many schools only accept financial aid requests as part of the initial application, but this is not always when the student needs the most help. Timely financial aid could mean the difference between a student becoming a graduate or a dropout.
Ideally, financial aid should target students from underprivileged backgrounds or who have an economic disadvantage. These students are most vulnerable to financial hardship.
In addition to financial aid, make sure to have a robust job placement program set up. Students who can find gainful employment will have full schedules, but they will have the financial capacity to continue, which will take some of the pressure off them and help keep them in school. Paid internships are more valuable than unpaid.
Remember that your goal is more graduations, so students should be able to take their best shot at a bright future without finances holding them back. As an institution, you also save the cost of a student dropping out when you ensure they are well supported.
Advising and Counseling
Students who lack focus and directionality in life need good advice on how to find that focus.
Much of your effectiveness here depends on your engagement with students. From day one, from the moment they walk onto your campus, you need to let them know their value and that you are going to support them moving forward. Students in orientation need extremely clear instructions on how to find the services they need. We recommend pre-scheduling counseling sessions for students, so that they can receive one-on-one coaching.
BeMo can help here, too, because we understand student direction and have helped many students transform themselves into disciplined persons who can undertake their own advancement with confidence and skill. When students lack direction and purpose, it is often because they are short on self-awareness and understanding of their options. This is where counseling services come in – to help students work through these problems more efficiently. This will lead them to find their true path and, in turn, make it to their graduation.
Do your students feel heard and involved in their education?
Do your students feel like they are participating in class? Or do they feel like they have no direct say in the outcomes of their institution and that they are being lectured at?
An academically engaged student is one who has input into the institution. You can accomplish this by giving student council a certain amount of power and authority, allowing students to influence how they want their campus and institution to be directed. Make sure that there are clear channels of communication and that complaints or problems are dealt with in as positive a manner as possible.
An academically engaged student is also one who is being engaged by professors. Professors and instructors need to make an active effort to reach students and inspire them.
A Home Away from Home
Campus should be a welcoming place, whether students are commuting or living in residence. Even virtual students should feel as though their campus is a safe place to be, where they feel comfortable, but also where they feel they can open their minds and their worlds up to new ideas. Both goals are the same. If students feel no comfort, they will not open up and won’t take advantage of one of the finest aspects of a university: broadening their horizons.
Students need this, but it can only be achieved in an atmosphere of sharing, helping, and camaraderie, where the students themselves are also accepting and challenging toward one another.
Establish fair, clear rules that govern campus life. Nobody wants to be punished or ridiculed for speaking their mind. Finding a balance is tricky, but fairness is key. When students feel that rules are fair, and enforced consistently for their own wellbeing, they will want to stay as long as possible in the safe space you’ve created.
Students often arrive at your institution on the back foot. They lack purpose and drive, they are underprepared for the rigors of academia, and they can feel overwhelmed by the huge changes in their world.
You can help them by creating an accommodating atmosphere with good counseling services and a clear path to a brighter future.
BeMo can help by offering program packages to work with students directly through our services and scholarships, and give them the personal focus and attention they need.
1. What sort of help can BeMo give my students?
We can help with admissions challenges, such as how to write a CV for graduate school, or we can give students skills like study habits or ways to handle video interviews that will last them all their lives. We have a wide variety of resources and services available to suit your student body's needs.
2. How will these programs be available?
We’re willing to work with your institution to find the right program for you and your students, but generally speaking, we would be contracted by your institution and then our services would be freely available to students.
3. Do you benefit the institution directly?
Yes. Any benefit to the student body is a direct benefit to you, which will be seen in retained tuition, more satisfied students, and a better post-graduate experience.
4. Can BeMo help third and fourth year students, too?
While it’s better to get help early – since these benefits will be exponentially rewarding – we certainly can help later students graduate as well. It’s never too late, and sooner is better than later.
5. What does all of this cost?
We have different levels of programming which can be tailored to your facility’s needs. Keep in mind that cost can be a kind of investment, since great student graduation rates will lead you to better ratings and improved all-round results.
6. Our graduation rate is already better than the national average. How will you help us?
By getting it even higher. Unless your graduation rate is 100%, we can probably help you.
7. Is it worth it to work with you, or should we just run our own programs?
We think our services are worth it, but you should make a careful, right decision for your institution. We don’t want to talk you into anything. With that said, we offer money-back guarantees and satisfaction promises because we stand by our services, and we’re confident you will love the results.
8. How fast do we see results?
Well, if you offer two-year degrees, you might see them in two years. You might see them immediately if we work with fourth year students who were about to drop out, too. While the results might take some time to manifest as statistics, we know they will be felt and appreciated immediately by the student body.
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