Relationship Maintenance 101: Are You Doing All You Can to Drive Retention?

We all know how important it is to initiate a relationship with a student that results in a positive onboarding experience, but that alone isn’t enough to keep them engaged. Rather, maintaining the institution-student relationship over the long haul is the real key to impacting retention.

As is the case with most relationships, whether personal or professional, it is a two way street. You usually get what you give. But that isn’t always the case in an academic setting. More often than not, we see students expecting institutions to make more of an effort, emphasizing trust, commitment and support.

With the responsibility on the institution to do all that it can to reinforce the institution-student bond, how can your team build and nurture the kinds of relationships with students that provide the encouragement needed to enroll the next term, and the motivation to keep enrolling term after term?

Recruitment and Retention in Higher Education recently published our article on Relationship Maintenance 101. Generally speaking, here are some relationship rules that apply:

  • Get off on the Right Foot: make a good first impression, take an interest and set realistic expectations.
  • Be Cognizant of Competing Factors: leverage data and feedback to understand students’ behaviors and relevant risk factors.
  • Always have their Back: be proactive, yet responsive and always make sure students have a known point of contact.
  • Rely on Open Communication: create an open door policy and a sense of community.
  • Be Supportive Beyond Expectations: coach students as appropriate and make sure they know what lies ahead.

The bottom line is that students need your long-term support to be retained, not just to get them in the entrance upon enrollment, but also to see them out the exit at graduation.

Sarah Horn

As the VP of Retention at Helix Education, Sarah brings unique insight into student retention from more than a decade of experience in higher education, nearly all in operations. She has designed, scaled and managed a success coaching program for an online Associate's Degree, and has a tremendous amount of experience aligning and implementing relevant, practical retention strategies that drive results. Previously, she worked for Inside Track as Campus Director, implementing large-scale partnership. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Rochester and earned her Master's degree at John F. Kennedy University.