Retention: Assessing Why Students Stay & Why They Leave


Recorded on: October 13, 2015 (75-90 minutes)

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Retention: Assessing Why Students Stay & Why They Leave

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Nationwide, institutions craft initiatives to increase retention rates. Retention coordinators are appointed, intervention programs are put into place, and special courses are offered for target populations. Still, effective retention results can be elusive.

Effective student retention initiatives are built on a deep understanding of why students persist and the factors or conditions that drive them away. This requires that we focus on non-cognitive factors as well as academic factors that can improve opportunities for persistence and completion. If these factors are ignored, well, we do it at the institution’s and students’ peril. This program will examine some of the root causes of student attrition, as well as the critical points at which students lose momentum and become attrition “statistics.” Participants will be challenged to examine why students stay at a particular institution and why they leave. Some of these factors can be controlled, and some cannot. A critical piece of analysis is to identify what an institution (and faculty) can “fix” and what it (and faculty) cannot “fix.” Additionally, participants will review the connection between the underlying principles of student success and student persistence at their respective institutions.

Participants will also be asked to identify and commit to institutional and classroom strategies that can improve retention rates at their particular institutions, giving them concrete plans to take home and integrate. We will also walk through a very simple three-step process to help identify the appropriate components of a retention plan.


  • Increase awareness about general student retention issues and trends
  • Differentiate between the concepts of “student retention” and “student success”
  • Explore reasons why students STAY at their institution—what keeps the students coming back?
  • Explore reasons why students LEAVE their institution—what keeps them from returning to campus and completing their program of study?
  • Examine critical points where students may be “lost” or lose their momentum to complete their program of study
  • Identify one institutional strategy that can lead to increased student retention
  • Identify one classroom strategy that can lead to increased student retention
  • Begin to examine the various components of an effective student retention plan

Who Should Attend?

  • 2-year & 4-year institutions
  • Academic Affairs/Instruction
  • Student Services/Affairs
  • Faculty (full and part-time)
  • Retention Specialist
  • Online Learning
  • Career Services