Want better student retention? Invest in staff

May 23, 2019

Student attrition rates are one of the most critical issues in higher education. As students fail to persist at higher education institutions, there are impacts on both the academic and social environments as well as institutions’ financial planning.

“With these facts in mind, it becomes increasingly important to understand what literature and theories exist relative to increasing student success and retention within higher education,” writes Adam Burke in the latest C&U Journal. “The literature is rich with theoretical frameworks as well as qualitative and quantitative research to support understandings of student persistence.”

In his article, Burke provides an overview of student retention, theoretical models, and applied retention research within student affairs. He includes discussions on theoretical models such as Spady’s Undergraduate Dropout Process Model (1970), Tinto’s (1975, 1993) Institutional Departure Model, and Bean’s Student Attrition Model (1980).

Burke emphasizes the need for student engagement, and calls on institutions seeking improved retention rates to invest in staff and programming.

“Providing professional development, increasing staff compensation, and creating a healthy culture to promote the services that lead to student retention efforts are all important,” he writes. “In addition, institutions will need to invest in new and innovative programming to engage students and increase their institutional commitment.”

Other articles in this issue include:


"An Admissions/Enrollment Imperative for Predicting Student Success" by Michele Sandlin

"An Interview with Tina Falkner" by Jeff von Monkwitz-Smith

Campus Viewpoint

"The Emerging Role of the Registrar in Enrollment Management" by Rodney Parks and Alexander Taylor

"Leading Internal Communication from Enrollment Management throughout New Academic Program Implementation" by Jeffrey P. Levine  

Research in Brief

"AACRAO Research Year in Review" by Wendy Kilgore

"The Next Generation of One-Stop Student Service Centers: Part One" by Francisco Maldonado Altieri


"The Registrar: A Cultivator and Curator of Academic Policy" by Joe Tate

"Don't Let Your Calling Catch Up with You: The Importance of Self-Care" by Monique Perry

Book Reviews

Consolidating Colleges and Merging Universities: New Strategies for Higher Education Leaders, reviewed by Matthew Fifolt