Student Retention and Satisfaction

Answering the Call to Action

Retention has the attention of every college and university today, often at the highest levels. It’s no wonder, since improving retention performance can produce substantial gains in revenue and reputation. Besides, the graduation of successful, satisfied students remains central to the mission of higher education. In this sense, retention is both a strategic and moral imperative.

Institutions are recognizing that now is the time to identify, quantify, and solve retention problems and capitalize on retention opportunities. Getting there, however, and even getting started anew can be a daunting task. Maguire Associates offers a suite of services designed to help you answer the call to action now being sounded.

Igniting the Retention Conversation

Our Diagnostic Audit serves as a strategic “conversation starter” on campus. It captures in one assessment how leaders across many departments more or less responsible for retention view whether and how the institution:

  1. Organizes to address retention issues,
  2. Knows why students leave,
  3. Tracks at-risk students,
  4. Intervenes to prevent attrition,
  5. Promises only what it can deliver,
  6. Delivers the desired experience,
  7. Enrolls students likely to persist, and
  8. Reframes the significance of attrition.

These eight dimensions illustrate that retention transcends the boundaries of every department, from Enrollment Management and Academics to Student Life and Athletics. The good news is that retention belongs to everyone in the organization. The bad news is that this often means retention actually belongs to no one.

You can use the Diagnostic Audit to engage your colleagues in the strategic, structural, programmatic, and financial conversations that are essential for organizing and implementing successful, evidence-based retention programs. This first step in mobilizing for success provides a tool to crystallize thinking and drive action in a critical area that, paradoxically, has received insufficient strategic impetus and investment.

Four Service Portfolios

Maguire Associates offers four retention services designed to meet your objectives, context, budgets, and timetables. Each of these services incorporates the use of a free Retention Revenue Estimator (see sidebar).

  1. The Diagnostic Audit delivers actionable knowledge about retention perceptions and performance within the institution. Over a 30-day engagement, results of the online audit are combined with a site visit, competitive and comparative analyses, and research of National Clearinghouse data to create a written assessment and action plan. This service is appropriate for institutions that feel they have an insufficient grasp of their retention challenges and possibilities, those seeking to jump-start long-overdue retention conversations on campus, as well as those wanting to restart or refresh past efforts.
  2. The Short-Term Attrition Reduction Programfocuses on currently enrolled students. Undertaken in 60 days, this program appeals to those who want to: 1) know why students are leaving, 2) track at-risk students, 3) intervene to prevent attrition, and 4) best organize to achieve these outcomes. With the Diagnostic Audit and Retention Revenue Estimator, the service also features:
    • Satisfaction and dropout surveys of current and former students,
    • Predictive modeling of retention success factors using institutional data,
    • Tagging of students by degree of attrition risk,
    • Survival modeling using longitudinal data by cohort to model key retention factors and how they develop and interact over time,
    • Assessment of retention tradeoffs involving varied financial aid options,
    • Design of priority metrics and formatting into a dashboard reporting system, and
    • Written report with analysis and recommendations for reducing current attrition.
  3. The Long-Term Retention Enhancement Program focuses on improving and aligning student expectations and experiences as well as overall retention performance. Implemented in 120 days, this service is designed for colleges and universities that want to: 1) promise only what they can deliver, 2) deliver that desired experience, 3) enroll students likely to persist, and 4) reframe the significance of attrition by assessing the problem in terms of costs, competitive standing, and institutional ambitions. This service includes the Diagnostic Audit, Retention Revenue Estimator, Research of National Clearinghouse Data, Satisfaction and Dropout Surveys as well as:
    • Review of website, publications, and social media content (see sidebar),
    • Integration of institutional data with secondary research from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) and other sources,
    • Interviews and focus groups with current and former students, including optional use of a new, patented research methodology for expanding the reach and analytic power of focus groups (click here to learn more), and
    • Written report with analysis and recommendations for improving retention.
  4. The Comprehensive Retention Plan combines all services in the plans above, starting with the Diagnostic Audit, and is delivered over a 150-day period. It is intended for institutions needing a comprehensive, holistic approach to reducing attrition and boosting long-term retention simultaneously.

Reasons for Leaving

Our services will help you assess why students are leaving and suggest what can be done about it. Why students leave or think about doing so can arise as a single factor or in varied, complex combinations. Some reasons for attrition are personal to the student, such as changing individual or family circumstances. Other reasons are more central to the institution, such as the variety of academic offerings or the quality of the student experience. We can help you determine the sources of dissatisfaction and address the ones that your institution can realistically expect to improve.

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