How Your Student Support Services Can Improve Retention

By: Chris Gilmore Jun 25, 2021

How Your Student Support Services Can Improve Retention

Student support services are more than a nice perk for students enrolling in college and university programs. They can mean the difference between a degree and a stop-out for many students. Yet many programs still under-publicize the availability of student support services. Others may do a good job of using them in marketing messages, but then stop bringing them up after a student has enrolled.

If your goal is to improve student retention, student support services are a vital element in your toolkit. They help students stay engaged, overcome barriers, and meet their goals. But they only work when students know they exist. Let’s take a closer look at how student support services can help you retain students.

1. Keeping students engaged

Imagine going to a party and you don’t know anyone there. You might end up sitting in the corner staring at your phone instead of engaging with the group. Students without support services are like the loner at a party. They may want to engage, but they’re not sure how. As a result, they end up feeling like outsiders disconnected from the community. They don’t think anyone will notice or care if they leave early.

With student support services, college is like showing up to a party where you know half the guest list. You’ll be more likely to mingle and meet even more people. Support services that include networking programs, cultural events, peer mentoring, gyms, and skills workshops all help students engage with your school community. That makes them feel more connected and more likely to persist, even when things get tough.

2. Minimizing or removing barriers

Every student must overcome some barriers. It might be financial concerns, difficulty retaining childcare, or a crisis of confidence resulting from a particularly demanding class. Such challenges can halt student progress. They might choose to put off completing their education until they deal with the crisis. Or, worse, they might decide they’re not cut out for college at all.

Student support services help keep these students enrolled by giving them tools to break through their barriers to completion. Tutoring, childcare, financial aid services, student healthcare, mental health services, IT support and a host of other programs can empower students to keep pushing and achieve their goals.

3. Helping them reach their career goals

Most students are motivated by career goals. They see a degree as a way to increase their pay, start a new career, or position themselves for a promotion. Yet some may lose sight of this goal amidst the assignments, projects, and tests. Student support services can help connect what students are learning in their classes to the skills they need to succeed in their careers. When they can connect classwork to their life’s work, they are more likely to persist.

Programs like career counseling, internships, resume help, job fairs, and other career-related services address the underlying goal that led many students to enroll in the first place. Reaching that goal is one of their top priorities, helping them do it should be yours.

Keep Promoting Student Support Services

Supports work best if they’re in place before there’s a problem. Try to identify at-risk students at enrollment so you can offer the right support services. Whether a student appears to be at-risk or not, keep talking about student support services. Don’t just mention them in your marketing messages or give students a list during orientation. Mention them whenever you can. Explain the benefits and make it easy for students to reach out when they need help.

You can keep students aware of support services by:

  • Making them a part of your social media strategy.
  • Inviting student ambassadors to share their experiences with different support services.
  • Setting up automatic emails that trigger at particular points in the semester—i.e. bring up tutoring and academic support a few weeks before midterms.
  • Use technology to identify at-risk students and customize and facilitate communication.

The Support You Need To Retain Students

The first step to making support services part of your retention strategy is having the right student support services in place. Then you have to spread the word. EducationDynamics has partnered with Nuro Retention to help you identify at-risk students early and connect them with the right support. Our team of caring student success coaches backed by best-in-class technology gives students everything they need to persist and succeed. Contact an EDDY Student Success Coaching expert today.