At a typical career college, about 40 percent of students drop out before completing their training, according to Complete College America.1 While this is clearly a problem for the students, it also costs the colleges a lot of money. Estimates provided by a group of six retention experts polled by Career College Central report that lost revenue due to attrition can be as much as $3,000 per student, if the student drops in the first quarter. To break it down further, the report drew a portrait of the average per-dropout costs of attrition; assuming a career college's average monthly tuition is $1,200, the average time to graduate is 14 months, and most dropouts occur during the first half of the term, schools lose at least seven months of revenue, equating $8,400, per dropout.1
High attrition rates also have a direct impact on future enrollment. According to research from the retention experts, schools that solve their retention issues can draw 25 to 40 percent of their leads from referrals.1 Students investigating their college options weigh retention and completion rates as a measure of institutional effectiveness, quality and commitment to their students.Here are some tips for keeping students motivated and in class:
Lack of Pre-College Preparation
While the average non-traditional student aspires to attend college in hopes for an improved future, there is a gap between students’ future goals and possessing the necessary skills for advanced coursework. Additionally, these students are typically first-generation graduates, meaning home support resources aren’t readily available. As a result, many students who enroll in college do not graduate with a degree.
Set students up for success by taking proactive measures before enrollment. For students without a high school diploma, your school can offer a diploma program that has two benefits1 - it gives these students their high school diploma and2 it prepares these students for their next step in college.
For most prospective and current college students, life is a balancing act including juggling work and family with the added stress of financial responsibilities. Instead of seeing higher education as a window to future success, it may be viewed as an interference to their daily responsibilities. If they consider school a costly expense rather than a conduit for financial stability, students might even feel guilty or selfish.
By combining increased class flexibility with substantial educational resources, students can better integrate classes into their lives and work them around their schedule. As leaders in non-traditional classroom settings, career colleges are often equipped with blended learning opportunities. Let prospective students know they can fulfill their personal obligations while attending school, then provide sufficient support to do so. By pairing your offerings with programs dedicated to ongoing career counseling and goal setting, students are more likely to remain motivated throughout their educational journey.
Poor Academic Performance
Bad grades often go hand-in-hand with external obligations. Long commutes, working multiple jobs, and stress from financial burdens lead to classroom struggles. A telltale sign of a potential dropout scenario, poor grades often signal a cycle of poor decision-making. Additionally, lack of a healthy home support system make challenging circumstances even harder to endure.
Prevent academic burnout by starting a mentor program. These mentors act as student coaches and address time-management skills, homework and study plans, financial challenges, family issues, and long-term planning. Much like workplace mentors focus on job performance and goal-setting, student mentors should be readily available to discuss how to attain success their academic endeavors.
The ultimate goal for non-traditional students is becoming gainfully employed in their chosen career field. The best way to show students the value of school is to start with the end in mind. Outline how your school will help them find jobs after graduation. Provide clear insight on how career or degree options match specific employer needs and how education will gear them for success.
To keep them motivated throughout the school year, partner with employers to provide hands-on training that coordinates with your curriculum. Since nearly three out of four students hold an outside job, seek employer partnerships for those already employed. By seeing firsthand how their education can help them get ahead in the workplace, they’ll remain eager to learn more skills that help them advance.