As follow-up to our blog on student retention systems, we surveyed educators and IT managers at academic institutions worldwide about their plans and experiences with student retention software. We received over 300 responses, most (70%) from four-year public and private institutions in North America. The vast majority (73%) view student retention as an issue at their school. Somewhat surprisingly, despite the high proportion of schools viewing retention as an issue, only 52% currently use a student retention system, although another 25% say they are planning to implement a system within 3-10 years.
The most popular student retention systems are from Ellucian, including their Degree Works, Colleague Student Planning, Student Success, and Course Signals. Internally-developed systems are next most used on campus. Social media plays a key role, as 82% of schools report using or planning to use social media in their student retention efforts. Other student retention software ranking high in the survey included Starfish Retention Solutions, Redrock Software, EBI MAP-Works, Campus Labs, Hobsons, Pharos, SmartEvals, as well as the retention suites from Blackboard. Pricing, quality, and vendor support are the top three decision factors in selecting a student retention system.
As with almost all educational software systems, integration is a major concern. Most schools using the software (74%) integrate it with their Learning Management System (LMS) or their Student Information System (SIS). Other concerns about retention software include: faculty and staff may not yet see the value (52%), the data may be misused (22%), and the software may depersonalize student advising (21%).
The Value and Drawbacks Of Student Retention Systems
The most-mentioned benefit of student retention systems is that they increase contact between students and advisers (77%). They also connect students with the resources they need (70%), and enable early intervention for struggling students (69%). Indicative of lingering skepticism about the systems, only 58% of those surveyed feel that the systems actually increase the graduation rate.
The biggest drawback to the systems is the high cost (43%). The two main reasons cited for not implementing a system are simply no need (29%) or lack of awareness of the systems (29%).
There is a clear sense that student retention systems will grow in popularity and usage in the future; a resounding 97% feel that to be the case. We also asked about a related category of software, student recruiting systems. The survey reported that 80% of schools are currently using or plan to use recruiting software to assist them in the admissions process. One study found that the cost of recruiting each enrolled student is $2,432, indicative of the recruiting software ROI, and good fodder for a future blog.
Here’s the full infographic:
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