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5 Ways Academic Advisors Can Increase Student Retention
A few simple and engaging actions can help academic advisors increase their student retention rates.
Increasing Student Retention
A thought on every academic advisor’s mind is, “How do I increase student retention?”
According to John McDonald, adjunct instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI, academic advisors are evaluated on a higher standard at their respective institutions.
“They (advisors) are evaluated on the number of students seen, the type of interaction, changes and sign-ups for classroom and online applications, while factoring in the number of hours that are used for these processes and the number of students who not only finish the semester, but also the year and graduate,” he stated.
Increasing student retention, therefore, can result in a better evaluation and possibly even a promotion for the advisor. In addition, increasing the number of graduates means a better future for those students.
Let’s look at five steps to build a better relationship with your students and become a more successful academic advisor.
1. Personal interaction. Let each student know someone cares about his or her academic success. Sending an email or making a phone call will increase your chances of retaining that student. Some academic advisors find their success rate in reaching students even higher when writing a personal note.
Eileen Marie Snyder, student success services manager at the Graduate! Network Inc., stated, “I use a hand written card. I usually try and enclose a small item, maybe a flat magnet or book marker, and a business card.
“I make the appeal emotional: ‘I am concerned about your journey and would like to have a heart-to-heart talk, call me’ or, ‘I have been in your situation before.’”
How you provide that personal interaction will depend on if that student stays engaged and improves his or her grades for the better.
2. Create a Blackboard class. Invite students with low midterm grades to a Blackboard "class" with resources and information that would typically be shared in an advising session.
3. Flipped classroom approach: Create a video or podcast with a lecture on grades. After creating a video or podcast, send it via email to the appropriate students, post it on the Blackboard class you created, and put it on your university’s YouTube account. This approach can be a very effective option, as 86 percent of colleges and universities have a presence on YouTube (according to a University of Massachusetts-
Videos are less formal and will engage students that watch them. Track those who watch the video or listen to the podcast, so you can help retain them.
4. Connect through social media. A study at PEW Research states that only 11 percent of students utilize email. However, Facebook and Twitter are popular ways for students to stay connected. In fact, a survey by OnlineEducation.net found that 96 percent of college students use Facebook. To increase student retention, send those students a Facebook message.
5. Create a “Students Helping Students” program. Students are more likely to study with the help of other students with a mastery of a specific subject. Latisha McCray, coordinator of Academic Support Services at the University of Central Florida, stated, “We offer a Peer Academic Coaching program that pairs students with other students who have mastered that subject area.”
After creating an academic coaching program, include details and instructions on how to sign up in your video or podcast, Blackboard class, through social media channels, emails and phone calls.
“We kept meticulous statistics and found that students who came in, as a whole, raised their grades the most, followed by students who utilized Blackboard and then students who did neither,” said Sherree Kessler, academic advisor II at Texas A&M University.
By following the five above steps, academic advisors will attract more students to schedule an appointment, which will help increase student retention.
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Page Updated Last on: Mar 25, 2013