This article is part two of a two-part series to help your institution bounce back from the disruption of COVID-19.
At SightLine, we recognize that disruptions in the 2019-20 academic year will affect both enrollment (Part 1) and retention (Part 2) at your institution. Alongside Dr. Jim Hundrieser, Vice President of Consulting at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), we are providing ideas to re-engage with your continuing undergraduate students to keep them on the right track. SightLine recommends taking advantage of ‘down-time’ during the summer to check in with your most at-risk student populations and provide the best possible resources to them.
Student Persistence Solutions during Summer and Fall 2020
A recent survey by Niche Partners of 35,411 high school and college students indicated that 13.4% of college or graduate school students are unsure they will be able to graduate on time. Additionally, 91.7% are concerned about being able to pay for their education and 18.4% are considering transferring to another institution. These students need to know that your institution is here to help in any way possible.
1. Checking In
Showing empathy and support to friends and neighbors during this time of social distancing is crucial. The same can be said for campus departments and student employers to check in with the students who were engaged with their areas. The simple act of personally reaching out to a student to see what questions or concerns they have can have a big impact in how supported they feel.
- Utilize the help of staff members who were previously hands-on with students who may have extra time on their hands to help with outreach calls
- Campus closures and social distancing can have a big impact on students’ mental health. Consider moving to virtual counseling services to continue to support student mental health needs.
- Virtual learning center support can help keep students on track as they acclimate to a new online course forma
2. Identify Students who are Less Likely to Return to Campus for Fall 2020
This summer is a critical time to re-engage with current students who have not been on campus for a few months. Don’t wait to see who will return next fall or how they are performing during the first few weeks. Over 88% of parents believe their child’s college is handling this crisis well, so let’s keep them momentum up! SightLine can empower your institution to take a much more proactive approach to student engagement.
- SightLine recommends predicting which students are unlikely to return to campus based on spring 2020 data
- We can also help your institution create tailored summer 2020 and fall 2020 student success programs and messaging
3. Targeted Supplemental Awards, Discounts, or On-Campus Employment
According to Niche, 55.8% of parents of college students believe they will be less able to support their child’s education financially. Students may require additional aid, discounts and employment opportunities to make up for costs associated with traveling home, stocking up on food and necessities, or housing challenges associated with residential hall closures from the previous academic year. If you are targeting your most at-risk students, these relatively small awards or discounts may make a big difference.
- Take this opportunity to engage alumni, friends and family of your institution by asking for specific targeted donations
- Speak with students who are identified as being at-risk of dropping out and let them know about opportunities for supplemental awards, these awards may be in the form of a small discount
- Communicate with your academic departments to identify departmental specific discretionary funds that may be available through industry relations or foundations
- Identify opportunities for on-campus employment and work-study funds when students come back to campus. Work-study aid frequently goes unused and should be leveraged to the full extent possible
4. Resources to Support a Larger Population of Dual Enrolled Students
Campuses may see demographics changing with more dual enrolled students on campus who were not able to complete high school. These students may be stretching themselves more than traditional dual enrolled students.
- How can these students be more fully supported through college advising?
- How can campuses provide more education to high school guidance counselors to help ease the transition?
- Is campus student-ready or are students expected to be campus-ready?
5. Discount for Retaking Classes
Most parents (87%) don’t believe their child will consider transferring or taking a semester off. Parents want to keep students on track! But students may feel unjustly put at higher risk for not completing their courses with circumstances being out of their control. We recommend allowing students to retake failed courses at a discounted rate. By the end of this spring semester, your institution will know how many courses were not passed. Therefor your institution can develop a discount rate strategy based on
- The total number of classes that may be retaken during the following fall or spring semesters
- The maximum potential loss in net tuition revenue
- Determining an amount that may be attractive to students relative to current credit hour pricing strategies
We Are Here to Help!
While your head is down working on the logistics of changes on your campus, we are here to look at the big picture and provide the resources and information that you need. We are here for you as a support resource, feel free to reach out to brainstorm further ideas for your institution.