"I need to know why our attrition rate spiked."
A true story about a call we received from a college president ...
Theories were plentiful among senior management as to why the midsized private university had suffered an alarming spike in attrition. Everyone seemed to have the answer. Unfortunately, everyone had a different answer. And everyone had a different prescription to remedy the problem.
The president decided to end the speculation and uncover the root cause. More importantly, a solution had to be found. That's when the president called Longmire and Company.
We began by conducting quantitative research on students who did not return, as well as those who did. By examining both current and non-returning students we were able to uncover key differences in these groups in terms of their experiences, attitudes, and expectations regarding the college. This led to a discovery that no one anticipated.
The findings revealed that non-returning students had never developed or had lost an emotional attachment to the college. They exhibited distressed feelings and emotions about their experience at the college. They reported being unhappy, dissatisfied, lacking self-confidence, and being unable to see a bright future after graduation. It had nothing to do with programs, majors, location or facilities. It had everything to do with an emotional bond between the student and college that had never developed or been nurtured.
The college took corrective action. A feedback loop was established to enable students to communicate with the college at any point in time to register suggestions, concerns, or complaints. The college established new programs to develop a stronger sense of community among all students on campus. Alumni were engaged to provide a sense of success in life after graduation. Numerous other initiatives were taken to strengthen the emotional bond between students and the college.