Dropout Prevention & Alternatives for At-Risk College Students

June 9, 2023 Watermark Insights

Dropout Prevention & Alternatives for At-Risk College Students

College dropout rates continue to rise. Completing a four-year college degree is a challenge within itself, and many external obstacles make it difficult for at-risk students to graduate. College dropouts may continue to face lower socioeconomic status, fewer job opportunities, and lower earning ability. Even a strong job market can make it challenging for students to remain focused on their education for fear of missing out on workforce opportunities. 

Unfortunately, workers without college experience have struggled the most in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, approximately four million workers have yet to find another job since the pandemic, which has led to a continued backslide for non-college-educated workers. To maintain student retention rates, college administrators and faculty can do their part in providing the right resources and alternatives to at-risk students. 

Reasons Why Students May Drop Out of College 

Did you know that over 40% of students currently enrolled in college have considered dropping out in the past six months? The first step to preventing students from dropping out of college is to find the source behind this issue. While there are countless reasons why an individual may have to or feel the need to drop out of college, some of the most common reasons include:

  • Mental health struggles
  • Physical health or medical reasons
  • Financial concerns
  • Academic challenges or disqualification 
  • Inability to prioritize education over family or job responsibilities
  • Lack of support from loved ones
  • Social issues
  • Poor work-school-life balance
  • Homesickness
  • Being a first-generation college student 
  • Lack of staff or institutional support
  • Uncertainty about choice of degree or career path
  • Feeling unprepared and overwhelmed
  • Unexpected family obligations, such as pregnancy or caring for a sick loved one
  • Lack of campus connection or school not being a good fit 

How to Prevent Students From Dropping Out

Preventing college student dropout involves a number of strategies that focus on supporting and lightening the burden on your learners. Here are some things your higher education institution may want to administer.

1. Implementing Mental Health Services

It's no secret that mental health issues are on the rise across all demographics. For many students, going to college means taking on financial and work-life burdens that can make it difficult for them to manage stress and anxiety. Implementing mental health solutions can make all the difference in destigmatizing poor mental health. Some examples may include providing counselors, peer-support programs, therapy dogs, or even connecting students with online therapy programs. 

2. Lessening Financial Burden

Lessening Financial Burden

At least 42% of college dropouts named financial burdens as their primary reason for leaving school. Developing effective financial aid programs can make college education more accessible to students of all backgrounds. 

Reducing tuition rates in exchange for volunteer hours may be an option you want to explore. In addition, equipping advisors with tools to help students manage their finances or learn to create a personal budget can also help them feel supported.

3. Developing Study Support Systems

To prevent students from falling behind academically and feeling overwhelmed, it's wise for higher education institutions to implement study programs. These programs, which can be led by peers or instructors, can simply act as a tool for students who are learning how to prepare for higher education classes. Other alternatives might be free tutoring programs or personalized academic advising.

4. Improving Student Experience With Software

If your goal is to improve student success, there's no better way than to use software to streamline your efforts. Automation is the most effective tool for measuring learning outcomes and improving institutional research and planning. With a centralized platform, you can easily collect, manage, and measure student data to identify where you can make improvements and where your students require support. 

Enhance Your Dropout Prevention Strategies With Watermark

Enhance Your Dropout Prevention Strategies With Watermark

Improving engagement and supporting students at your higher education institution are effective ways to prevent dropout rates from climbing. Implementing new strategies for student retention and success can also help you meet your institutional goals. At Watermark, it's our mission to enable higher education institutions to better understand student performance and needs.

Our services and solutions make it easier to assess your programs, gather insights, measure data, and drive continuous improvement throughout every department. When you better understand your data, you can cultivate actionable steps for improving learning outcomes and student support systems. To learn more about how Watermark can help your institution and students thrive, request a demo today. 

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