How Can Social Media Affect Student Retention?

Social media has been used at colleges for quite a while now. It’s useful for both students and the university in many ways, from getting information to effective marketing. It has even proven to help advance students’ academic performance.
Now, it’s time to discuss how it affects student retention levels – one of the most important metrics at universities. Unlike major universities, such as Harvard, which has a retention rate of 95%, the average rate across the U.S. is somewhere between 65% and 77%. 
When you see such numbers, it becomes understandable why higher education institutions need to do everything they can to improve their retention rates. 

What Affects Student Retention in Higher Education?

Before we take a look at social media, it’s vital to give an adequate picture of how exactly student retention is generally affected. According to most research, students overwhelmingly cite the following factors that cause them to leave school:

  • Personal problems – students usually cite issues, such as finances, work, family, health, and difficulty fitting in at the university. 
  • Academic problems – these all boil down to the fact that the studies are too complicated.
  • Wrong subject or program – many students realize at some point that they have chosen the wrong subject or program, or maybe even the wrong university. Inadequate information at the time of enrollment can be blamed for students making poor choices. 
  • Student’s status at the university – full-time students are more likely to continue their education past the first year, while part-time students tend to drop out the most.
  • Loss of interest in the studies.
  • Dissatisfaction with the experience at the university or quality of teaching and the studies themselves.

Can Social Media Be a Good Fix?

Naturally, you can’t fix these problems entirely by using social media. Each university has to take a long and hard look at what the main factors are concerning low retention rates at their institution. Once they find them, they have to make a great many changes that always end up being specific to each college. 

However, many of the problems we discussed can partly be fixed using social media. 

First of all, as most students are already on social media, your college can use its social media profiles to share more information about their school. That can effectively portray how the campus and the studies at your institution look, and then the students will know exactly what they are signing up for when they choose your college. 

Social media cannot fix the personal problems that lead students to drop out. However, you can assist them in being more connected to the school. You can allow them to voice their opinions and invite them to engage with the school and other students through social media. That can effectively help them feel more at home in your university and become less likely to drop out.

Key Takeaways

As you can see, each university can use social media in several ways that will help students feel better at your school and obtain all the information they might need. 
It won’t prevent them from dropping out, but it will undoubtedly affect their decision enough to show that social media can affect student retention levels.
All of this starts with adequate data collection, and Runner EDQ offers one of the best solutions for data collection and management. Contact us if you want to know more.