What can schools do to help create a positive college experience for their students? What can they do to help students be more successful? According to the National Survey for Student Engagement, some of the top-performing institutions in the United States are embracing a campus-wide culture of student engagement as part of their retention strategies and directly involving faculty in these efforts…and they are seeing positive results.

These schools have been encouraging students to view their college experience as a chance to become part of a community – rather than simply embarking on a solo educational journey. This encouragement is significantly decreasing the chances of a student dropping-out, stopping-out, or transferring.

So, how could you do this too? By maintaining effective communications with students from the moment of acceptance, all the way to graduation, and even through to employment.

While there are many different communication methods you could use, here are four ways that encourage effective and substantial student engagement, while also thinking about larger retention strategies:

1. Determine the Best Channel of Communication
How do your students prefer to be contacted? Track communication channels so you can best understand the preferences and expectations of your students. For example, knowing the percentage of students that want to be contacted by text messages or push notifications can provide intel around how much you should increase (or decrease) the usage of mobile devices into your communication plan. The same goes for analyzing email open rates and call volumes. Data can help you discover what type of channels students are most responsive to and what they tend to ignore or avoid.

2. Create an Informed Communication Plan
Leveraging data to create an informed and comprehensive communication plan can provide students with the information they need to succeed with an approach they appreciate. Consider what type of information will be relayed through what channels and how often.

3. Use Communication to Offer Support
Ongoing and proactive support of students is critical to their success. Use data to help identify when students need more personal attention. From there, you can expand your communication plan and offer 1:1 support. This will not only help more students succeed, but it also builds a stronger connection between you and them.

4. Embrace Technology
All it takes is a quick glance around campus to know that students are hugely dependent on technology. Embrace their desire to be constantly connected by making technology an integral part of your communication plan. Use online tools to engage students on and off campus and reach out to them through text messages, emails, nudge notifications, and app alerts.

The answer is not simple for what creates a positive learning experience for students, but engagement plays a critical role. When students are more engaged in their campus community, they are less likely to look for other options – this can have a big impact on the success of an institution’s retention strategies.

Interested in learning more about The Secret to Student Success? Click here to download our free eBook.

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