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Student Recruitment for Student Retention

Student Recruitment for Student Retention. Anna Round Student Services Centre University of Northumbria. Recruitment and Retention. Course choice Mistaken expectations ‘Reactive’ entry Entry requirements Institutions need to recruit MORE students …

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Student Recruitment for Student Retention

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  1. Student Recruitment forStudent Retention Anna Round Student Services Centre University of Northumbria

  2. Recruitment and Retention • Course choice • Mistaken expectations • ‘Reactive’ entry • Entry requirements Institutions need to recruit MORE students … BUT they need to recruit the RIGHT students

  3. Identity is still being formed (Shipton 2004) (students are ‘late adolescents’) • Life/learning paths ‘never simply the products of rationally determined choice’ • Learning careers take place in the context of life experiences/changes • Young people are highly adaptable • Changes & choices are highly complex Bloomer & Hodkinson 2000 • ‘I had to be there to know it was wrong’ Davies & Elias 2003

  4. ‘I chose the wrong course’ • Cited by withdrawing students in most surveys: Davies and Elias 2003 (DfES) – 24% Mantz Yorke 1999 – 39% Long 1999 (Australia) – 20% to 35% • Far less important for mature age students McGivney 1996 found that mature-age students who left were more likely to do so because of non-academic factors Yorke et al 1997 found that mature-age students were more likely to feel satisfied with course choice & to feel ‘committed’ • ‘Wrong course’ students will often ‘try again’ ‘stopout’ not ‘dropout’

  5. What is the ‘wrong course’? • Course does not match student’s strengths • Course does not match the precise focus of the student’s interests • Course does not match [m]any of the student’s interests • Course does not match the student’s career goals • Student has radically changed interests/goals

  6. Advising and course choice –some problems • Students receive poor advice from ‘official’ channels • Advice is too ‘backward looking’ • Advice is limited in scope • Advice is agenda-driven • Students receive poor advice from unofficial channels • University advice is ignored

  7. Danger signals in course choice… • This course will get you a job with a high salary • This course leads to jobs and you have to do something • This is the course for people who get good grades • You need to decide on a course quickly (you’re already late!) • You did well in this at school… university will be more of the same

  8. Mistaken expectations - subject • University vs. school content discipline vs. syllabus; theory and practice; stereotyping • University vs. school learning styles knowledge vs. problem-solving focus; “no right answers” modular vs. discipline thinking; • ‘Relevance’ to career aims/”the world” • Scholarly focus vs. assessment focus • Academic demands

  9. Mistaken expectations - studying • Workload and organisation • Hours of study • Independence • The great “spoon feeding” debate Student satisfaction relates MORE to meeting of expectations than to ACTUAL levels of workload/academic demands

  10. Mistaken expectations - social • Finance “The money. That really scared me… a rabbit in the headlamps” • Accommodation “I cried when I saw my room… I had to share a bathroom and kitchen with thirty other people… just painted breeze blocks” • Independence “you come to university having been spoon-fed through A-levels… it’s your first time away from home… you’ve been used to having mum and dad run you everywhere in the car and you’ve been used to having an awful lot of support” • “One big party”/ “the Big Brother House” “… when the work started to come I was still partying…” Ozga and Sukhnandan 1998

  11. Mistaken expectations - attitudes • A culture of entitlement? “… students appear to be getting higher grades for doing less” McInnis et al 2000 • Media-led images? “… it was all magazine reading, watching TV and hearsay…” Ozga and Sukhnandan 1998 Consumers and customers? “… attitudes… have shifted very clearly in terms of a consumerism/ customer kind of relationship, that we’re providing a product” lecturer quoted by Medway et al 2003

  12. What is ‘reactive entry’? Subject-irrelevant choices • University is the ‘natural progression’ • Everybody [like us] goes to university • My parents/teachers want me to go to university • I can’t think of anything else to do • I don’t want to get a job just yet • This subject/university fits my image

  13. Entry grades and retention • For all students, non-continuation rates RISEas A-level grades FALL • Qualifications other than A-levels correlate with LOWER retention rates • For students who persist in higher education, entry grades do NOT appear to predict degree outcomes • The explanation for the relationship between entry grades and retention is unclear

  14. ‘Subject’ motivations for HE entry Correlate with… • Longer private study hours • Higher rates of attendance • Stronger academic orientation • Higher academic satisfaction • Higher social satisfaction • Better academic & social adjustment

  15. ‘Non-Subject’ motivations for subject choice Correlate with… • Shorter private study hours • Slightly lower rates of attendance • Lower academic satisfaction • Worse academic adjustment

  16. Addressing course choice issues • Acknowledge the ‘external’ problems • ‘Normalise’ course change • Flexibility of first year credit: don’t bore the ‘decided’ ones and allow the ‘undecided’ ones to move • Offer DETAILED information ‘Applicants have an increasing requirement for information, which it is felt is no longer totally satisfied by prospectuses, brochures and the selected information given by an institution... what applicants learn pre-enrolment will determine whether they remain within the institution Bowden 2003

  17. Managing [creating?] expectations… Honesty… “… if I’m paying decent money to go to college I want to make damn sure that I’m getting 110 per cent attention off the teachers that I’m paying to teach me.” Hutchings and Archer 2001 Detail What will a typical day – week – term be like? How is the subject taught? What are the assessments? The ACT of offering detailed information inspires trust in the institution.

  18. Current students… • Are perceived as ‘more honest’ • Benefit from interaction with staff • Address issues with up-to-date information • Can use recruitment activities to develop employability skills [or even as part of course-work] Luton University found that conversion rates rose by 60% when current students advised on recruitment and pre-enrolment materials

  19. ACTIVE recruitment worksStephenson 2003 • Encourage students to examine their own interests/goals • Encourage students to question their experiences, expectations & attitudes • Expose students to HE subjects & experiences they don’t ask for/want • Use dialogue, group activities, taster sessions and current students

  20. Student recruitment and advertising Information in Advertising: - Less is more - A picture is worth words - Change your image, not change your life (“get” not “do”) - Buy this now, buy something else next week Information in [effective] recruitment: - Concrete, practical information - Up-front and explicit information - Encourage students to be actively involved - Encourage students to commit to a course

  21. ‘Overselling’? Prospectuses have taken on some of the characteristics of travel brochures and may set up presumptions and expectations that visits are unable to dispel Yorke 1999, p.100 “Advertisement literate” students? • May distrust ‘shiny happy’ literature on principle • May be familiar with advertising images but less able to decode these • May be immune to ‘yet another lifestyle ad’ • May leave ‘purchasing’ to their parents

  22. The Glamorgan Solution #1 ‘… this year we've decided to embark on something different - we've gone out on a limb by asking our prospective students to think’ Crofts 2003 • No glossy pictures or “vague positive” language • Plain typeface and line drawings • Subject-based “pop up” questions and responses • Fast-response chatrooms where applicants could ask any questions about subjects or applications • Avoid the ‘morass of lifestyle advertisements’

  23. The Glamorgan Solution #2 • Information is interesting for its own sake • Active learners get the most out of university • University life isn’t [always] glossy and glamorous, but it’s still worthwhile • you become a different person when you learn Crofts 2003 “Our campaign aims to get our audience thinking, to snare those with the intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness that’s necessary to succeed at university… to establish a new cerebral sexiness’

  24. Questions for students • Do I have a specific career/area in mind? • Do I want to ‘just chill out’ for a bit? • What sorts of question interest me? • What is important to me? • Which generic skills do I want to develop? • Do I want a ‘fresh start’? • Can I afford it? • What are my alternatives?

  25. Parental involvement Positives • Boosts dialogue between parents & students • Generates parental support for students • Helps parents understand student experience Problems • Parental goals don’t always motivate students • Student may want/benefit from ‘fresh start’ • Conflict between parental attitudes & subject issues

  26. Conclusions • Students should be active in recruitment • Students need full and honest information • Students need to be prepared for change and for surprises • Institutions need to be flexible (different students, changing students) • Current students are a valuable resource • Student integration starts at recruitment • Students should be clear about their own choices

  27. Baillie, L (2001) IT employers’ skill demands: do they know what they want? Professional Liaison Centre, City University, London Bloomer, M and Hodkinson, P (2000) Learning careers: continuity and change in young people’s dispositions to learning. British Educational Research Journal 26 (5) 583 - 597 Bowden, R (2003) Institutional approaches to improving student success at the University of Brighton. Paper presented at the conference on ‘Enhancing Student Retention: using international research to improve policy and practice’ (Institute for Access Studies) Amsterdam, November 2003. Crofts, P (2003) Why I… think we need to market cerebral sexiness. Times Higher Educational Supplement 24 August 2003 Davies, R and Elias, P (2003) Dropping out – a study of early leavers from Higher Education. DfES Research Report 386. Hutchings, M and Archer, L (2001) Higher than Einstein: Constructions of going to university among working-class non-participants. Research Papers in Education 16 (1) 69 – 91 McGivney, V (1996) Staying or Leaving the Course: Non-Completion and Retention of Mature Students in Further and Higher Education. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education McInnis, C, Hartley, R, Polesel J & Teese, R (2000) Non-completion in vocational education and training and higher education: A literature review commissioned by the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (Australia) Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne. Medway, P, Rhodes, V, Macrae, S, Maguire, M and Gerwitz, S (2003) Widening participation through supporting undergraduates: what is being done and what can be done to support student progression at King’s? Department of Education and Professional Studies, King’s College, London Ozga, J and Sukhnandan, L (1998) Undergraduate non-completion: developing an explanatory model. Higher Education Quarterly 52 (3) 316 – 333. Shipton, A (2004) The ‘evolving’ of a ‘sense of self’ over a university career. Manuscript, UNN. Stephenson, E (2003). Retention – a pre-entry issue. Paper presented at the conference on Student Success: What works?, Action on Access, London, December 2003 Yorke, M, with Bell, R, Dove, A, Haslam, L, Hughes Jones, H, Longden, B, O¯Connell, C, Typuszak, R & Ward, J (1997) Undergraduate non-completion in England (Extended Final Report of a research project commissioned by HEFCE) Bristol: HEFCE. Yorke, M (1999) Leaving early: Undergraduate non-completion in higher education. London: Falmer

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