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Survey: Retention Remains Top Priority for Student Success

A recent survey found that retention of current students is the highest student success priority for higher education institutions as they grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The informal poll, conducted by nonprofit student success organization InsideTrack, asked nearly 140 college and university administrators about their biggest student success priorities and challenges.

"While the pandemic has significantly disrupted college and university operations, the resilience and focus on student wellbeing that institutions have demonstrated over the past several months is encouraging," commented Dave Jarrat, senior vice president for strategic engagement at InsideTrack, in a statement. "The findings of our survey highlight how institutional leaders are planning to direct resources as they seek to recover from the pandemic's initial impacts on student success."

When asked for their top three student success priorities, 80 percent of respondents cited retaining current students. That was followed by offering more online/hybrid classes (55 percent) and enrolling more students (48 percent). Most respondents (77 percent) said they are primarily focused on the fall 2020 semester.

While respondents expected flat or lower budgets across most student success areas, they anticipated having increased financial resources in several areas. These included:

  • Student financial aid (cited by 53 percent of respondents);
  • Mental health/counseling services (38 percent);
  • Online/hybrid program development (34 percent); and
  • Closing equity/achievement gaps (26 percent).

Across the board, most respondents said they would address their student success priorities by investing in training and development of current staff (as opposed to contracting with outside service providers or hiring new staff).

The full report, including an interactive dashboard of the survey results, is available on the InsideTrack site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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