Monday, November 27, 2006

Three Last Minute Solutions to Retain Students

This is the time of year when attrition is one of the most important issues. How many will drop out between now and the start of next session? The answer to this question will have major impact on the budget, purchases, hirings, firings and anything else that has budgetary implications. i.e. EVERYTHING. If more drop or step out than expected (which is the case for most schools as I am hearing) then there is a tough year ahead.

What I am hearing from schools in the past few days is “Is there anything we can do now to try and save some of the drops?”

Well, starting to care about this issue back in June would have been a good idea. But YES there are some potential solutions. Here are three quick and effective solutions.

Final exam good luck card

The first thing to do is for the president of the school to send a good luck in final exams card to every student. A simple card signed by the president can do wonders in helping a student feel valued during the “decision period.” Keep in mind that Customer Service Principle 1 is a powerful one. (For free copy of the 15 Principles of Good Customer Service in Higher Education, just click here)

The card needs to be mailed to the student personally. Send it right to the dorm room or home. None of this Dear Occupant or an open email to everyone. How personal!? We are talking a personal wish from the president and signed in real ink!

Presidents serve the students

If you want to take an additional step, invite students to a free late night, say midnight, coffee and cookies/pastry/ice cream…..event the night before the first final exams. The president should be there to help hand out the coffee and food. Little says we like you to students than free food handed to them by the president.

You may not get every student that night but the word will spread and you might get to them all over a period of nights. And do not be afraid to say Good luck and looking forward to welcoming you back next semester/term. If a student does not respond with “Yuh.. See you then,” that is a student who may be thinking or even planning to leave. This is the time for the president to ask if there is a problem. Listen to it. Try to solce the situation. At least get some response to that student ASAP.

Immediate help

If the issue is a problem in a class, have some faculty tutors around that night who can help the student right then and there. After all, though poor grades is not the major reason why students leave if they fail courses, they may have to drop. Besides our goal is knowledge and skills through learning even on the night before finals.

This will not save every student who might be tottering, but students will find these such positive statements they will tilt be some students into the positive zone. And that can help tilt revenue into a more positive zone too.

If there are any particular issues you are facing, please call me. I will be pleased to give you a solution to the issue or refer you to someone who can. I recall well the anxiety of this time of year, so if I can help anyone, feel free. 413.219.6939

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