College drop-out rates soared during the pandemic. A report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that 8% of undergraduate students dropped out in the two years spanning the pandemic, while community colleges saw a 15% attrition rate. Plus, these rates don’t take into consideration the many adults who started their education years or even decades earlier and have yet to get a degree. Bringing in students who want to complete their degrees means attracting a demographic—or a set of demographics—that have very different concerns and needs. Successfully adding these learners to your enrollment can significantly lift your numbers and, more importantly, can help many deserving students finish what they started. Here are some ways you can boost your institution’s appeal to degree completion students:
- Reach Out to Them—Personally, if Possible
Finding and communicating with students who didn’t graduate can be tricky, but start with what you know. Comb your college’s records for students who started a degree or certificate program or even took one class without fully enrolling in a program. Direct—and if possible—personal communication from your institution can help encourage students by offering information on different ways of continuing their education, be it online, part-time, or with evening and weekend classes.
- Listen To Their Needs
Each student is their own story, with unique needs to re-enroll. Some may need financial support. Others may need more educational support, childcare, or schedule accommodations. Find out what is going on for the potential re-enrolling student and what programs your institution has that may meet them where they are.
- Offer Programs Specifically for Degree Completion
Some adult learners feel like they may not fully belong in college with a bunch of late teens and early twenty-somethings. The scheduling and culture of traditional classes may be at odds for degree completion students, so you may need to consider offering special intensive, alternate-schedule, or adult learner-focused courses. You may also have meet-ups, study groups, or other programs that can draw these students to feel part of your educational community.
- Mentoring, Coaching, Tutoring, and Counseling
There are reasons each student ended up dropping out in the past, and additional personal attention at the institutional level can address them. Mentoring programs with peers or staff, coaching to help them stay on track, tutoring to help them fill in educational gaps, and counseling to address any mental health or social issues hindering their progress can help.
- Financial Support
In many cases, financial hardships or the need to earn money to take care of family have prevented students from completing their degrees. Devoting additional scholarship aid, discounts, and loan programs can ease the burden on these students.
- Flexible Scheduling
Obviously, offering evening and weekend classes can benefit working students. Online courses with no set sign-in times may also help adult learners with busy work and home lives. But there can be even more creative ways to look at scheduling classes based on your institution’s particular students. First, poll students to find out what will best fit their schedules.
- Childcare Services
Childcare can be a significant barrier for students, and offering childcare is a great perk for degree completion students with preschool or school-age children.
- Scour Transcripts and Interview Students to Maximize Credits
As your admissions counselors work with degree completion students, it is crucial to find every possible way to get them closer to their desired degree. Extra care in evaluating transcripts as well as credit for experience programs shorten the time and cost of a degree and are very attractive to goal-oriented students who have busy lives.
- Offer Certificate Programs
Some students may not be interested in a degree but would like certificates that directly benefit them in their chosen careers. Depending on where your institution is located or if you can offer distance education, providing in-demand skills for the workplace can entice students to return so they can rise in their profession. These certificates may also get students closer to a degree in the future, and with a good experience at your institution, you may see these students back in one of your degree tracks.
The lessons colleges and universities are learning about their degree completion students can vary quite widely. But any initiatives you can take to re-enroll students and help them stay the course to a degree or other credential are beneficial to your school and the world. Plus, you will be helping to upskill the workforce, helping people realize their potential, and enhancing your institution’s reputation at the same time!
Contact us today to find out how we can help level up .your education marketing strategy.