Focus on student retention:

collegematters has developed a theory of student departure that is based on a combination of student college choice theory and consumer behavior theory. The theory, simply stated, is:

Students leave colleges before completing their programs of study because they are unable to reaffirm their initial buying decision.

Students experience a variety of influences throughout their lifetime that lead them to make the decision to attend college and help them to determine which college to attend, which program to take, what extracurricular activities to participate in and other college related choices. This series of decisions constitutes a complex buying decision. Each time the student has an opportunity to revisit the decision by enrolling for subsequent terms or by deciding whether to withdraw before the end of an enrollment period, the student revisits his/her original buying decision. When the student’s college experience is not congruent with his/her expectations, does not provide the benefits s/he anticipated, or in some other way fails to validate the decision to attend college (essentially, does not result in student/customer satisfaction), the student opts to withdraw (or fails to re-enroll). Essentially, the decision is not to buy again. So, it is important that the student’s buying decision is affirmed by his/her experience. Understanding the factors that lead students to their initial enrollment decision is key to developing programs for decreasing the instances of premature student departure (that is, improving student retention).

Read the article on Consumer Behavior Theory of Student Departure for more information on this revolutionary concept.

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