More students are choosing to complete academic programs online. While the good news is that students are reporting being highly satisfied with their online learning experience, institutions continue to need help to retain online learners, with some online classes having as much as a 20% higher failure rate than on-campus classes. What can institutions do to support online learners, so they are successful and retained? Read on for insights into how colleges and universities can address the challenges online learners face to better support their success.
Students Drop Out Because of Finances
The number one reason online students drop out is the struggle to pay for college. Many online learners are working to provide for themselves or their families. Therefore, providing easy-to-access information about scholarships and the financial aid process is essential to supporting online learners. Institutions can help students to understand financial literacy and key topics like budgeting by using short videos that can be integrated into advising conversations, online mentoring, or coaching. Making connections early with students regarding institutional financial resources can go a long way to retaining students.
Students Have Academic Skill Gaps
Particularly given pandemic learning, many faculty, and staff are finding students need more skills to be successful in an online learning environment. Students need continued support to understand how to take notes, study, and complete online testing. Student success workshops like Taking Tests Online can help students develop the skills necessary for academic success. These workshops can be utilized as class assignments, integrated into LMS templates, and referred to during meetings with academic advisors, tutors, and faculty. Addressing skills gaps provides students with a strong foundation for academic success.
Students Struggle To Balance Life & College
Too often, online learning has been depicted as something one can easily squeeze into a busy schedule; the reality is that online classes demand the same attention and time as on-campus classes. An orientation to online learning is a powerful tool for preparing students for the expectations of online learning. It also serves as a vehicle to introduce students to resources like time management strategies, stress management resources, and other tools that can help students find the right balance for them between the demands of life and school.
Students Don't Seek Colleges' Help
Research has shown that online students who are comfortable seeking help are academically successful and remain enrolled in online classes. Institutions can address help-seeking behavior in multiple ways. First, use orientation as a place to introduce those staff and faculty who can help students, such as peer mentors, online tutors, online learning staff, faculty, etc. Students often need coaching to feel comfortable seeking help. Second, reiterate the importance of asking for help through video messages in an orientation explaining how to ask for assistance.
Students Can't Find Online Support Resources
Another reason students cite for dropping out of online academic programs is that they could not easily find resources to support their success. Address this concern by providing a thorough onboarding experience, including an online orientation that can direct students to resources like online tutoring, peer mentoring, library resources, financial aid, academic coaching, and advising. Use videos to introduce students to the people who will support them and reiterate these messages through electronic newsletters, emails, and social media posts.
How Institutions Can Stop Online Students From Dropping Out & Ensure Student Success & Retention
OnlineLingo provides students with an orientation to prepare for success as online students and 20 curated workshops to develop skills. Workshops address various topics, from communicating online to taking tests in an online environment. Designed and facilitated by nationally recognized experts, institutions use OnlineLingo as a building block to student success and retention.
By Meg Foster
Online Learning & Design Specialist - Consultant