Advising for College Persistence and Retention

In our previous blog,  we mentioned that academic advising helps a student feel a sense of direction and motivates them to continue their college education. Here is an example of a community college located in a Chicago suburb that embraced this resource and the impact it had on the institution.

President Joianne Smith of Oakton Community College started the All for One program in efforts to halt the high dropout rate. At the time, five students were leaving Oakton Community College per day. This program encouraged all faculty and staff members to meet with at least one student five times a semester; however, the Oakton faculty and staff went above and beyond their initial goal. They went on to schedule 15-minute one-on-one conferences with each students in at least one of their classes. They focused on listening to students and getting to know them at a more personal level. Additionally, they learned their students’ names and encouraged other students to learn each other’s names.

In one year, the All for One program reduced the student drop out rate by 20 percent! Read more on the All for One program here.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!

Promote College Persistence

College persistence is when a student continues attending any university or college after their freshman year. It is not to be confused with college retention, which applies to students returning to the same university to continue higher education. These two ideas are measured differently since persistence depends on the student’s motivation whereas retention depends more on the institution’s efforts to keep the student.

So, how can we motivate students to stay persistent during their college career?

  1. Encouraging students to take high level courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP), dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment courses during high school helps them know what to expect in a more rigorous environment. If a student feels prepared to take on their college courses, they will be more likely to continue their higher education.
  2. Arranging visits to local campuses is a simple task that high schools can do to motivate students. Regardless on interest in the local campus, visiting a university can help the students figure out what they would like to see in their future university, whether it is class size, location of the campus, amount of diversity, student organization, activities for students outside the classroom, or campus housing.
  3. Academic advising is a tool that most students do not take advantage of; however, more and more universities are now starting to implement mandatory advising in their curriculum to increase student persistence rates. Attending advising sessions, in high school and college, motivates students to set goals while the advisor provides resources to help them attain these goals. This provides a student with a meaningful goal to work towards even during tough times.
  4. If a university focuses on increasing awareness of resources for students before or right at the beginning of their freshman year, students will know where to receive assistance and not feel like they are alone. Common resources that most universities offer include computer labs designed for financial aid processes, support clubs and organizations to bring students together, tutoring and remedial courses for core subjects, and student success courses or workshops to improve time management and study skills.
  5. Many times, students feel like their college courses did not fully prepare them for their desired career fields. Focusing on connecting the skills learned in each course to post-secondary life can give students a sense of direction and inspire them to continue their education. Providing opportunities for students to obtain internships, conduct their own research, and volunteer in their future professions can be very beneficial and comforting.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!

First-Generation College Students

High school graduates’ transitions to college can be very difficult–especially for first generation students. A first-generation student is a student whose parents or guardians have not completed a bachelor’s degree. They are, essentially, the first person in their immediate family to attend a four-year college or university.

According to the First-Generation Foundation, 50 percent of college students in 2010 were first-generation students. However, only a small percentage of these students actually graduate with a bachelor’s degree. This foundation provides many useful tools to motivate first-generation students to stay persistent and graduate.

Danielle Moss Lee, CEO of YWCA in New York, created the following Power List for high school administrators and educators to motivate all future first-generation college students to graduate.

  • Early and Frequent College Exposure – take your students to the local college or university to familiarize them with that environment and/or open communication on the subject.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? – ask students “Who do you want to be when you grow up” instead so they can start focusing on becoming that person first and then realize what career path they want to pursue based on that.
  • College match, match, match! – help students look at colleges that not only match them for academic reasons, but also match how comfortable the student will feel attending (campus life, culture, location and size).
  • Money and status – encourage your students and their families to start looking at scholarship opportunities as soon as possible and know immigration status of your students so they are prepared for any processes vital to obtaining financial aid.
  • Sharing stories – bring current first-generation students and their families into the classroom to share their experiences and provide comfort for students and families who will later be going through a similar experience.

To read more on this list, click here.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!

College Transition and Persistence

Did you know that 28% of students drop out before they even become a sophomore?

At Future Institute, we provide two programs that directly impact college transition and persistence for all Concept Schools alumni.

  • College Liaisons are Concept Schools alumni who are now in college. These liaisons reach out to Concept Schools graduates who enrolled in their university in order to provide a smooth transition into the collegiate environment.
  • FIRM, or Future Institute Road-to-Success Mentorship, provides alumni with mentors who are professionals in their chosen career fields to guide and motivate them to achieve their goals.

A university that also provides programs to ease the transition and promote college persistence, especially for new students, is the University of Illinois – Chicago. The Office of the First-Year Initiatives focuses on this topic exactly and builds a welcoming environment for students. This is only one of many programs offered by this university to ensure student success.

Join us at World Future Forum for research findings and best practices in college transition and persistence!