What are your top 5 strategies to increase student retention?


I invite you to chime in this month as our theme will focus on student retention. Let's take a deep dive into key issues that drive attrition and effective strategies that can be used to increase retention. 

  • Is mindset or grit the key? Should we be focusing on these concepts? 
  • Are early alert systems that identify students who miss classes effective? 
  • When do we loose students? 

Let's come together throughout October to discuss student attrition and retention. 

Share your top concerns, struggles, or ideas to kick off the discussion. 


Kathy Tracey



As we move through this month's discussion about student retention, I'd like to ask you to share your strategies on student recruitment. Retention begins with the outreach messaging. While many of us think about outreach as a way to move a prospective student to an enrolled student, it is the message that sets the stage for a learner's expectation. 

If the expectations are not met, prospective students often attend an onboarding session or make an inquiry. However, these students may 'drop' before they ever fully enroll. 

To get our conversation started, let's talk about student recruitment and messaging. I invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and struggles so we can work through them together. 

Kathy Tracey


It's an all to familiar scenario.... A student shows interest in joining the adult education program - they call and make an appointment to join in for an orientation and pre-test. We are ready to serve this student and then they are a 'no-show'.  

We call and email the student, and don't hear back. The student has 'ghosted' the program. When we think about student retention, we often think about that enrolled learner who joins the program and then disappears weeks into their course of study. But if we look at various points along the way, we may want to consider retaining the learner from the point of contact to the program through the intake and enrollment process.  

I'm interested in your strategies for moving a student from initial contact to enrollment. Consider sharing your processes and I'm specifically interested in learning if your virtual onboarding processes have had a positive impact on moving students into  your program. 

Kathy Tracey

It takes courage to make that first phone call or show up in person and tell someone that "I need to finish my high school education." There are so many emotions involved when someone admits to an educational failure. They see themselves as failures, and they believe everyone else does too. Therefore that initial contact is crucial. We can destroy that courage with our attitude or careless remarks.


Hi Lauren, 

Thank you for that insight. I remember a student who used to come to our building. She didn't come in for a while - just hung around outside when we had class. 

Then she came into the building but didn't want to enroll. Then, finally - she enrolled, but it was a very long process. You reminded me of this student and for many people, entering an educational environment, one where they haven't had previous success, is intimidating and frightening. Yes, we need to give space for our students to be unsure and we need to provide a welcoming environment. So, I'd like to ask our community members,

How do you create an open and inviting enviornment for students who may be hesitant or unsure? 


The educator/intake personnel must possess the following:  

  • a sense of gratitude for the potential student choosing your program
  • a listening ear of what is their story
  • inquiry/discussion  about what comes next after securing the HISET
  • excitement about being part of the process.

With the potential student heart issues being  released, the mind will start a clearing  and achievement process.  The initial contact addressed the past, present, and future. 

I love this!  

I often think of intake as an ongoing process - Intake versus Onboarding.  Student's may be hesitant to fully share their stories or their barriers on first contact but the welcoming environment creates a safe space for students. 

Intake process -as you mention, include discussions on next steps. Preparing students for the process helps to aleviate their anxiety about moving from the intake process to the classroom. 

I welcome more examples of intake process and onboarding the student to increase their retention. 



When do students typically leave your program? We did an analyisis of our student population and discovered (generally) if a student made it to 28 hours of instruction, they would persist. So, what does that mean? What would happen if we were to work with students who had 20 hours of instruction and identify any potential barriers? 

Do you use data to identify when students leave your program? If so, how can you use this data to help students persist? 

Consider sharing your ideas and strategies. 



Have you seen this article: Hiker Lost for a Day Ignored Calls Because of Unrecognized Numbers. While everything worked out well for the lost hiker, I found this story intriguing becasue it speaks to how many individuals do not answer phone calls. If calling students is a strategy used for retention, how should this strategy change? 

I look forward to your ideas.