Retention in Higher Education Research Paper

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Retention in Higher Education

Evolution across the Globe

Challenges of Institutes

Factors Influencing Student Retention

Alignment of expectations and experience

Social and academic integration


Academic Performance

Attitudes and Satisfaction

Academic Engagement

Measures to Improve Student Retention

Curriculum development

Orientation and Induction

Authentic Curriculum

Student-Centered Active Learning

Integration of Study Skills

Students from Under-represented Groups

Organization of Program

Cultural Issues in Classrooms

Role of Presidency in Dealing with Retention

Accepting the Change

Retention Strategies

Reasons Given by Students for Withdrawal




This paper is designed to figure out the reasons which cause the failure of educational institutes to retain the students. It also gives comprehensive overview of the measures that can be adopted by the leadership and higher authorities to nullify the negativity prevailing in the institutes and how to effectively control and retain students.


Student retention has become a major concern for institutes across the globe. Retention and success of students in higher education is a prevalent issue across the globe. It has become a trend that large numbers of students who take up the admission at the initial stages don't turn up on the first day of joining. This drop out can result in a loss for the institute. Many measures need to be taken in order to cope with the problems that emerge due to retention. Several basic measures can be taken in order to minimize the losses that incur as the result of retention:

If you don't want to lose students, recruit fairly and be certain that fresher's have developed an understanding what to expect, and what backing is accessible, right from the beginning. A fair system can not only give know-how of the entire process, it can also develop faith of people in an organization.

There can be academic as well as non-academic factors that can result in student retention. Achievement motivation, lack of self-confidence in academic perspective, financial aid, institution size and selectivity influences, institutional commitment, social support provided by the institute and issues like parent's education and family income (Lotkowski, Robbins, & North, 2004). Improving these factors can help in retaining students.

Similarly, institutes must exert effort in the recruitment process. They need to make informed decisions while recognizing the fact that a conflict can emerge between retention and recruitment.

Think wisely and fairly about the students. Make sure that students take a good start. It is commonly said that first impression is the last one. This saying can hold true in this scenario as well. An institute that recognized the needs of students at first place since introductory session can prosper in retaining its students. Academics and support system of an institute must work simultaneously in order to help the students since beginning of their courses.

Information should be made available and accessible to students in order to satisfy them and avoid any problem like retention.

Inclusion is also involved in retention and success. Inclusion means to enable complete and impartial involvement in and progression through higher education for all future and present students.

Proper student counseling can be a necessary and helpful measure to get rid of excessive retention.

Lastly, there is a dynamic interaction between student involvement, quality of learning among students and the teaching along with learning context (Crosling & Heagney, 2009).

Evolution across the Globe

Facing new challenges and getting an appropriate solution to the emerging problems has gained significance in this ever evolving time. The ever progressing technology, uncertain economic stability, reduced public financial support and increased globalization have resulted in a huge impact on the educational system. This is the time to face extraordinary challenges and to attain unbelievable opportunities simultaneously. We face several challenges in this evolving time which leave an impact on our daily life, one or the other way. We cater changing culture and social setup, rapidly growing and changing technologies, drastic changes in economy, political instability and the hesitation of millions to accept the changes in academics. All these measures are needed to be accepted in order to cope up with evolution through acquiring proper education. Education is the only measure that can keep individuals in pace with the evolution. Realizing the gravity of situation is immensely important to prosper.

Challenges of Institutes

With this evolution and advancement, challenges emerge in institutes on regular bases which need to be catered for better future. The challenges faced are:

With economic instability, problem of rising college cost has emerged. Public funding is not sufficient for providing adequate resources.

Low completion rates of education, spending more time in completion of a degree and low retention is a serious and increasing challenge which in turns increases the expenses especially in public sector colleges and universities.

Diversity in students in context of culture and background is a challenge that needs proper and efficient handling.

Increased use of technology in educational sector is a major challenge in traditional universities.

These challenges need to be properly handled and administered. Keeping up with the pace of emerging and changing trends is necessary to excel in all fields of life. Significance of education has increased tremendously over the past three four decades so in order to rise, coping up with this evolution is vital ( Simon, 2009).

Factors Influencing Student Retention

Several factors can be listed that play an influential role in student retention. According to University of Fraser Valley the following factors influence student retention:

Alignment of expectations and experience

The expectations and experience must be in accordance with each other to retain students.

Social and academic integration

Students persist if social and academic integration exists.


Institutes financial aid programs can be helpful to solve affordability issues and thus students can be retained.

Academic Performance

Poor academic performance can significantly results in withdrawal of students from colleges and universities. Secondly, academic performance is also linked with academic self-discipline indirectly. The effect of academic discipline on academic performance is a very strong analyst of college retention (Seidman, 2012). Thus both the measures need to be carefully monitored.

Attitudes and Satisfaction

Along with academic performance, student attitudes and satisfaction have a significant impact on retention. Academic optimism can have positive influence on student retention. It can result in better motivation level and potential to adjust easily. This can in return lessen the dropout rate.

Academic Engagement

Academic engagement can have a direct influence on student retention. Activities such as research can keep the students involved with their academic careers which in turn can be helpful in retaining the students.

Measures to Improve Student Retention

Few necessary measures can be implied to improve student retention according to University of Sydney.

Curriculum development

Dual system of education is prevalent in many third world countries. It can negatively impact student retention. Similarly, obsolete ways of teaching can also result in dis satisfied students so in order to retain the students, curriculum needs to be maintained and updated. New and advanced tools need to be adapted to enhance students' potentials and talents. This will not only nourish their skills but will also lead to satisfaction among students. Thus curriculum development will be a significant step towards retaining a student.

Orientation and Induction

The trend of having an orientation or induction session for new students entering university can be very effective. Communication is improved and students are overloaded with information about the new system. Student centered strategies are implied to give an opportunity to the student to understand the culture, hopes and expectations of the system. This student can positively influence retention as they get a chance and time to absorb the changes. This demonstration gives them an opportunity to understand the system well and have a better knowledge about resources and expectation which in turn builds their confidence in the institute. Optimistic view is constructed in the student's mind, which in turn retain the students.

Authentic Curriculum

The more authentic and up-to-date the curriculum is, lower is the dropout rate. When the curriculum is properly structured and approved by education authorities, students develop a confidence. They develop a deep insight of the courses taught and seek understanding and meaning. This leaves a positive influence on students. Thus student retention is enhanced.

Student-Centered Active Learning

Student centered learning have numerous advantages:

Improve student participation and learning

Students can express their ideas and thoughts

Cultural diversity can be reduced because of increased communication

Better adjustment in new surroundings

Increased motivation

It is the expansion and application of such learning and teaching tactics that encourage a more dynamic, student-centered methodology to learning. This aids in enhancing student engagement, commitment and retention on the program.

Integration of Study Skills

There are different and unique methods of providing study skills and academic support. The common methods are:



Integrated curriculum models

Traditional pastoral

Professional curriculum model

Integrated curriculum model

These approaches have numerous benefits. For instance, mix of semi-integrated and integrated models of curriculum provision proposes improved visions for assisting a broad spectrum of students to prosper at university. Similarly, integrated approaches are preferred for those…[continue]

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