In a time when school districts are doing everything they can to retain students, it’s also important for small schools to do what they can to keep students on their campuses throughout the school year. There are many reasons students leave a school, but there are also plenty of things schools can do to increase student retention rates. Retaining students is not easy, but it’s something that every school should work towards!
What Does Increase Student Retention Mean?
Student retention means keeping students in school for an entire year. It’s not just about getting the student to attend every day of the school year—it’s about engaging the student in school throughout the entire year. Student retention is especially important when you are in a small or private school. If your school’s well-being is dependent upon parents’ tuition payments, then you most certainly want to retain as many students as possible. Student retention in small schools is vital to their survival.
Why Your School Should Focus More on Student Retention and Attendance
Now that you understand what student retention is, it is time to look at the three biggest reasons your school should focus more on student retention and attendance:
#1: The more students, the more tuition you receive
If your school is a private institution, then the amount of tuition you receive from parents depends on how many students are enrolled at the start of the year. A higher number of students means more tuition paid—and that means more money for your small school!
#2: It’s a sign of your school’s success
When you have a good retention program in place, then it is an indication that parents are happy with what you have to offer. When students stay at your school from the beginning of the year until graduation, it means that you’re doing a great job! Parents want to send their kids to schools that do a good job teaching and nurturing them, and if your small school has done that, then they’ll stick around until the end of school!
#3: It saves you money & time
If students come to your private school and stay throughout the entire year, then it means that they don’t need to be recruited again. You won’t have to advertise or re-recruit new students, saving you time and money. Instead of spending time recruiting new students, you can spend that same amount of time teaching current students!
8 Strategies to Increase Student Retention Rates in Your School
Let’s look at eight strategies to increase student retention rates in your school:
#1: Have clear recruitment goals
The best way to increase retention rates is to recruit students who are the right fit for your small school. This may sound like common sense, but many private schools make the mistake of recruiting unwanted students—students who will drop out after a few weeks or months. Having clarity in your goals before you start recruiting means that you can target your most ideal students who will be a good fit for your school and who you feel confident will stay at the school throughout the year.
#2: Create an outreach plan
Once you have clarity on your recruitment goals, create an outreach plan to reach those prospective students. Reach out to families through email, social media marketing, or by participating in events. Keep track of all the families you are reaching out to so you can keep up with their responses!
#3: Develop a student retention plan
Next, it is time to create a student retention plan! The more activities your school offers throughout the year, the better chance students will stay put after enrolling at your school. Offering a variety of activities/events for students will mean that they’re more likely to stay at your school. It’s a win-win!
#4: Check-in with new students frequently
Once you’ve recruited new students and welcomed them into your school, you need to check in with them regularly. The best time to check-in is during their first few weeks at your school. But you can also email, text, or call them later on in the year to make sure they’re happy and still loving your school.
#5: Offer incentives for attendance
An easy way to increase student retention is to offer incentives for students who have good attendance. This could mean a prize drawing every month for students who have missed no more than two days of school. It could also involve rewards for perfect attendance, or free movie passes for students with no absences during the first semester. There are plenty of ways to offer incentives!
#6: Do a student survey at the end of the year
End-of-the-year feedback is important to have to increase retention rates. At the end of the year, conduct a student survey that asks students why they’ve stayed at your school for an entire year. Ask them what would make them want to stay again next year! The more you know about your students’ opinions, the better your chances of increasing retention rates.
#7: Include parents in decision-making
It’s important to include parents of current students in your retention conversations. Talk with them about what they love about your school and ask for their feedback on how you can improve. This is a great way to increase student retention because it helps the whole family feel more involved, which means that they will feel more connected to your school.
#8: Celebrate student success
Lastly, celebrate your students’ successes by having a fun party! Be creative and celebrate each of your small schools’ milestones throughout the year. This is a great way to increase retention rates because it will remind current students how much fun they have at their school every day.
Keep these eight tips in mind if you want to increase student retention rates!
By using these eight strategies to increase retention rates, you can protect your small schools from losing students. Remember to have clarity on your recruitment goals and outreach plan before you start recruiting new students. After that, be sure to check in with new students often once they’re at your school and offer incentives for good attendance. At the end of the year, check in with students again by asking for their input on why they enjoyed staying at your school. Doing these things will help influence your students to stay at your school throughout the year!
SchoolCues is an all-in-one school management system for small schools with limited budgets and resources. Our solutions include admissions and enrollment, online payments, student information system, gradebook, communications, parent engagement, donations and fundraising, alumni management, and more. Schedule a demo with us today.