When adult educators get together and discuss their concerns, student retention is always mentioned as a major issue. This should not come as a surprise, though, because adult education is tasked with serving those most in need.
Adult students come to your classes for a multitude of reasons:
No matter what level a student is at – Literacy, ABE, ASE, or ESL – he wants to reach his goal. However, as we say in the field, sometimes “life happens,” and the student drops out. Retention is not only a problem in adult education; it is also a problem for high schools, training programs, and higher education.
Why did she drop out when she was doing so well? Why did he quit coming when he had completed two levels and always had great attendance? Here is what it means when students say “life happens,” in their own words:
What steps are working to help your program retain students? Some programs have classes that run for a semester; they feel the start/stop date helps retention. Other programs feel charging a small book fee gives students a “buy in” to the program. Many programs have attendance policies in place, and others have a counselor who works with the student from orientation to completion.
Do you have an admissions risk profile assessment that gives your staff information about potential risk factors that often contribute to a student dropping out? The results provide your team with the information needed to get additional support for the student – childcare, extra tutoring, transportation help, etc.
I would like to hear from you with your questions and suggestions about retention… an issue that concerns all of us. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org as to what has been helpful for your program. I will use your suggestions in an upcoming blog post. Who knows how many programs you may help and how many students may complete their educational goals because of your ideas!