Want to Prevent College Dropouts? Look Outside of the Classroom
College Dropouts – By Pete Wheelan Dec 19, 2015
College Dropouts – Why do students drop out of college?
It’s often not an “academic” problem: most students who fail to graduate are derailed by what happens outside the classroom.
For adult learners, who increasingly make up the majority of students in postsecondary education, the biggest barrier to graduation is balancing work, family and other commitments with school. For traditional students it’s more abstract: they drop out when they lack connection to the school community. When they have trouble fitting in, finding their niches, and connecting socially.
Over the past 15 years, InsideTrack has coached more than 1 million students and maintained data on why many don’t make it to the finish line. In an analysis of traditional freshmen (first-time, full-time students of traditional age) and post-traditional, working-adult students who failed to make it to their second years at a broad range of institutions nationwide, we found that academic issues accounted for just a small portion of total dropouts (see figure, below).
When schools understand the student experience more holistically, they can better arm students (and those who support them) with the data and tools they need to make informed decisions and act on them effectively.
Colleges and universities are getting more sophisticated in their approach to holistic advising, coupling technologies with targeted strategies to support students across the college experience, not just in the classroom.
A key impediment for many first-time college students is a dearth of clear direction, which results in a lack of commitment to graduation. Arizona State University tackles this problem by using a program called eAdvisor to help students decide on majors and to understand degree requirements. Students using the software can search their interests or characteristics they want in a career, such as “working with people,” and relevant majors will pop up.
The software also collects data on the number of students enrolled in each major and their progress, allowing ASU to better manage course capacity. As a result, the software’s efficiency has saved ASU more than $6.5 million in instructional costs and more than $7 million in advising costs each year. It’s no wonder why universities such as Georgia State University have implemented similar programs.
Implementing Available Tools
Technology can be used in many ways to magnify the impact of student-support professionals and to enable students to better manage their own success, including:
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