Attrition is a growing concern among higher education institutions. Students are no longer starting and completing their college education at one institution, and competition is on the rise to keep them engaged. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 33% of first-time college freshmen will not return to the same institution for the following academic year.1 Even fewer complete a program after six years at private for-profit schools, where 68% drop out. The outlook is not as grim at nonprofit private schools and public colleges, where 33% and 43% fail to graduate after six years, respectively. Interestingly, institutions that are more selective in their admissions process (those with the lowest admissions rates) experience higher graduation rates (33%), on average, than those who have open admissions policies (86%).2 So what influences these high attrition rates? Many factors, including customer service, finances, scheduling options, personal reasons, and perceived value of education may be playing a role. The cost to retain a student is much lower than the cost to recruit a replacement, so it’s important for an institution to pinpoint the issues affecting their campus, and create strategies to increase retention rates.
Here are some options for gauging student satisfaction with an institution.
- Quick Pulse Telephone Surveying
A quick pulse telephone survey is a short (10-15 question) survey that offers the fastest turnaround time from start to finish. This type of study is often completed in about a week, and results in a report that can include: results that are representative of the student population, overall student satisfaction with your institution to create a benchmark for ongoing research, opportunities for your institution to effectively meet the needs of students, an estimated return rate of students (overall, and by class), and an assessment of the effectiveness of seminar and acclimation programs. More information on the quick pulse telephone survey process can be found here.
- Student Satisfaction Online Survey
Conducting an online survey is a cost-effective option for examining student satisfaction. This method is frequently used to ascertain the factors affecting the retention rate among current students. Prospective students (including those who made an inquiry but failed to enroll) and alumni can be included in the research to provide a holistic review of the student experience. Online surveys often include approximate 20 questions and last less than 10 minutes. This methodology provides administration with a detailed report of the findings which can be disseminated to faculty and staff as the institution sees fit.
- Mystery Shopping
Through mystery shopping, researchers can gain a full-circle look at the student’s experience at an institution. From the initial campus inquiry to the application and enrollment process and beyond, researchers can utilize in-person visits, phone, and online touch points to evaluate all aspects of a student’s academic experience. This “boots on the ground” approach can provide an institution with an inside view that would be hard to obtain through other methods. Research can be customized to include an evaluation of as many, or as few, touch points that the institution would like to investigate.
Are your students happy? RMS has all the tools and resources to conduct your student satisfaction research. Studies conducted by a third-party yield more honest and accurate responses from students when compared with those administered by the institution. If you’re interested in learning more about student satisfaction research, please contact our Sr. Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy, Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.
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