A study done in 2015, by the National Student Clearing Research Centre, showed that out of all students who joined college in 2014, only sixty percent remained in the same institution they started in for their second year. Why is this so? Why the uncertainty? What can colleges and universities do to give their students the support they need to complete school?
A network of mentors and role models.
Higher learning institutions are experiencing a demographic shift, where a majority of students joining college will soon come from low-income households. Most of these students would be the first to attend college in their families, which would mean that financing would be a major challenge. You would also find that most of them don't receive adequate academic preparation for college. Studies have shown that the literacy levels in regions of affluence are much higher than those of lower income areas. As a result, the students from these regions are not well equipped to quickly adapt to the study skills that they would need to get through college. With this in mind, Deans can create a network of mentors, advisors and role models to assist these students.
These institutions can also personalize learning through the use of technology. Educators can combine the traditional lecture system that has long since characterized higher education with e-learning. Students can go through the syllabus via lecture videos and use their class time to better understand the content. This way, class time is used more efficiently. A study conducted by the Center for Digital Education shows that through this method, test results of 84% of the student population have greatly improved.
How well have the students mastered the content?
Many students have to work to support themselves, so giving merit on hours attended is an unfair approach. Degrees should be based on competency. How well has the student understood the study material? This way, credit is given based on prior experience and proficiency.
Financially supporting the students.
Finances are a major cause of low completion rates in our colleges and universities. Students need to be encouraged to apply for Free Application for Federal Student Aid on time. Institutions can make it mandatory for all student applicants to have completed their application prior to joining the school. They can also have financial counselors available for students who get accepted into the aid program.
The sooner we adopt these strategies in our institutions, the faster we can catch up with the challenges that face our education system.