Since the last time I wrote about “managing” student success (see my previous posts on the topic here and here), I’ve heard some feedback about this concept that I would like to share with you. I heard a couple of people say they didn’t really like the word “managing” because it is counter to student development theory that says we should meet students where they are and help them to get to a state where they can be successful. Another person said we should be focusing on engagement of students during all time periods of the student experience, which will facilitate student success. But I think no matter what words we use or how we describe retention planning, we need to make sure that we have a framework and the data to better inform our strategies.
With that in mind, let’s talk about two necessary and fundamental components in your retention planning efforts.
Your attrition curve and a student success relationship management and completion planning framework
The attrition curve is a distribution of a student’s likelihood to retain to the second year at your college. For example, we know that not everyone will retain and we also know that some students will leave no matter what we do or will stay no matter what we do. If we apply the concept of a normal distribution, then it might mean about one-quarter of students will leave no matter what we do, one-quarter will stay no matter what, and the remaining half might be influenced by our efforts. Here is an example of an attrition curve.