February 16, 2023

Support and retention: The missing link to sustainable enrollment growth

A recent article from Inside Higher Ed highlighted an upswing of 4.3% in freshman enrollment for Fall 2022 compared with the previous year. While this is great news, it instantly had me thinking - what is being done to support and retain these students? Despite this influx of new students, the total number of enrolled students has decreased by 0.6%, as noted in the report, indicating that more work needs to be done to maintain learners' engagement throughout the entire lifecycle. 

There are two key areas that can make an immediate impact in supporting students:

24/7, holistic student service support

Accessible information for student service areas such as financial aid, student accounts, and registration is critical for providing quality support. We cannot control when students have questions, but we can control access to the answers to those questions when they arise. When all these areas can be represented in a single interaction, a new layer of support is added. Additional areas to consider in this type of support can include admissions, housing, veteran services, and student health services. By partnering with Anthology and extending their support services to 24/7, University of Central Oklahoma have seen growth in their retention metrics and associated revenue.

Strategic and Proactive Outreach

Not only is it important for institutions to be there for their students when questions come up, but it is also incredibly important for them to seek opportunities to reach out to students with proactive messaging to keep them on the path to success. Outreach can be broad in nature, such as registration or FAFSA completion reminders, or it can be targeted at specific student groups to ensure more interaction or proactive messaging. Take the time to plan and discuss not only who will lead this outreach, but also when and with what messaging. Consider it from the perspective of the student, and how they can be best supported from recruitment to graduation. I recently joined our partners at Wichita State on a webinar for an in depth look at the power of strategic outreach. You can watch the session on demand now if you're interested in learning more.

These are two steps in the right direction for assisting students and ensuring their success. We collaborate with institutions every day to help them provide quality support to their students, and if these seem like areas that could benefit your campus, we'd love to talk more. Learn more about how we can assist you in this area.

Headshot of Lisa Hansen

Lisa Hansen

Business Development Manager

Experienced director of student services with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in event planning, operations management, Microsoft Excel, customer service, and admissions. Education professional with a bachelor’s degree focused on field major - communication, sociology, and music from Wichita State University.