Re-Engaging Students Who Have Stopped Out

Recruiting and Retaining Adult Learners journal published an article about re-engaging students who have stopped out. This article follows the launch a campaign to identify stopped out students in their database that met specific progress criteria. They identified a large pool of students that were close to completing a selected program but had stopped attending. They looked for obvious barriers and then had selected counselors make cold calls. Of the 809 students called, 11% met with counselors, over 50% re-registered, and 96% of those graduated. Conversations confirmed that students for the most part didn’t drop-out but lifed-out. They found that counselors were able to help students address personal barriers that allowed them to get back to class.
Our schools have changed so much over the last few years. Our classes, counseling, orientations, and enrollment practices provide much more flexibility and opportunity for students. There are many more support services available on our campuses and through community partners than previous years. Students may be in a different place than when they were last enrolled.  It may be the perfect time to develop a strategy to outreach to our own body of past students. My favorite conversations with students are when we reach out to the missing ones, take away any embarrassments or resentments they have been holding on to, and give them a clean slate to come back.
The article ends with a short description about the benefits of innovation in adult education:
  • The ability to replace disruption with flexibility
  • The ability to recognize the needs and educational options for the student-consumer.
  • The ability to realize that learning is lifelong
How might a change in our teaching, counseling, or administrative practices to transform the experience for students from outreach, advising, enrollment, persistence, and completion?  Are there new practices we can implement to intervene before students stop-out or to miss the ones who left?
Perhaps today is the perfect day for a student to come back.
Sutton, Halley. (March, 2023). Breaking down re-enrollment barriers for adult learners improves the college experience for all students. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners, Vol. 25, no.6.

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