Nov 10 2022

3 Ways to Boost Student Persistence Beyond the Classroom

Data analytics and on-demand support can propel students toward graduation.

Higher education institutions can be challenged when it comes to helping students persist and graduate, even under normal circumstances. However, the past two years have not been normal circumstances for anyone. Many of our students are working adults who balance the pursuit of a degree with family life and other personal commitments.

At DeVry University, we are committed to helping our students engage with resources to support their academic journey, coursework success and persistence. In addition to fostering personal touchpoints among students, their advisers and professors, we address student needs by applying some of the latest technologies — something other institutions can replicate.

Faculty and advisers are critical resources for students, but it can be difficult to reach and engage all students. Student care goes beyond one class; it extends across a student’s complete academic journey. It’s important to provide a variety of tools and resources to help students succeed beyond the classroom and make sure they are aware of resources that can help them persist to graduation.

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Advanced Analytics Help Advisers Detect and Remedy Barriers

To better understand students’ needs, advisers should explore the use of advanced analytics that empower targeted and proactive interventions designed to improve student outcomes.

Through a combination of technologies, advisers can easily identify when students experience a range issues, from low grades to declining course attendance. This can reveal underlying challenges, making it easier to get to the root of barriers impeding student success and rapidly deploy preventive efforts.

By adopting data analytics, universities can help students benefit from personalization throughout their advising journey. Messaging can be tailored to the distinct needs of at-risk students to guide them toward success. The use of predictive analytics can affect the success of students well before they even begin classes.

The integration of predictive analytics and proactive care approaches were especially important at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students across higher education became increasingly overwhelmed with the need to balance school and their personal situations. According to a report from The Institute for College Access and Success, adopting a more proactive approach to recruiting and retaining students was one of the ways in which programs adapted throughout the pandemic.

Empowered with specific intelligence about the unique needs of each student, our teams integrate technology into advising services and use these solutions to increase engagement and change the trajectory of success for our students.

READ MORE: How to use analytics in support of university DEI goals.

A Virtual Community Fosters a Sense of Belonging

It is crucial for students to get off to the right start. In addition to our new student orientation, we offer a preview period — up to two weeks before classes begin — so they can familiarize themselves with their upcoming course expectations. This includes reviewing expectations, an early read on upcoming assignments and an opportunity to build familiarity with the cadence of work ahead. By encouraging prospective students to engage in their learning experience early, we can help them get a better sense of what comes next.

Recognizing the role that connectivity with peers can play in college success, we encourage our students to engage in their peer-only virtual community as early as the day they apply. Applicants can see how other students feel about their educational journey at DeVry and ask questions.

Approximately 75 percent of our students sign up for our community, which becomes a place to connect with each other from anywhere, at any time. The encouragement and support they receive from their peers go beyond the care we provide and can be a powerful resource. Students share their experiences, discuss ideas and collaborate.

We’ve learned that this community was especially important during the pandemic when students stepped in to rally around those experiencing personal loss and grief. In this way, we are breaking down the walls of the classroom, so all students have a voice and a safe place to share it — every day, any time of the day.

On-Demand Services Meet Students’ Scheduling Needs

Helping students get to graduation and have a meaningful career afterward should be a top priority of higher education institutions. Offering on-demand student support and career services advisers who can accommodate students’ busy schedules is crucial to helping students complete their education.

We provide dedicated student support and career advising, including a set number of hours of on-demand tutoring per academic session through Tutor.com, which is available 24/7. Virtual assistants can help students manage their accounts and answer common questions, leaving staff members free to devote their time to students in need.

LEARN MORE: Digital mental health platforms can improve student wellbeing.

Mental health should also be a priority, and technology can help here as well. Confidential student assistance programs that provide on-demand counseling and support from licensed clinicians can help students balance their academic and personal lives. These services can be offered via webchat, videoconferencing or audio calls.

DeVry’s Digital Care Engine uses a variety of digital communication channels to connect students with help, whether it’s tutoring ahead of a challenging assignment or help in managing their accounts. Student care is embedded in everything we do. That includes access to career planning and a network of opportunities through our career services staff.

When it comes to care, it’s important to talk the talk and walk the walk in order to help students persist to graduation. Use all the technology tools at your disposal to make this a reality.

Matt Chinworth/Theispot

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