Heading into fall, we’re often focused on our first-time college students and helping them lay the foundation for success. No doubt, this support is critical – but many returning students also need help to keep on track towards college graduation.
Here are five different types of returning college students who might need this additional support.
1. The transfer student.
There’s a reason we focus on the college transition for first-year students, helping them navigate financial, cultural, and academic challenges at the beginning of the college journey. But these factors can be a struggle for transfer students as well. They may be entering a four-year university with more rigorous academic standards or larger, more daunting classrooms. Students are learning how to access resources in a new environment and may even be relocating to a new city.
What’s more, students are navigating which of their credits will transfer – on average, 37 percent of credits are lost – and if those credits will go towards their planned major. Thirty-eight percent of students in higher education will transfer at some point. By acknowledging the unique challenges they are facing, we can help make this process a smooth transition.
2. The student returning after time off.
Many students leave school before graduation to handle personal responsibilities including full-time employment, medical issues, or starting a family and raising children – commitments that may continue demanding their attention as they re-enroll. After a leave of absence, returning students may be reevaluating degree plans, readjusting to the demands of college, and regaining the confidence to persevere. Having a trusted advisor and a thoughtful plan in place can support their return to school.
3. The part-time student.
There are many reasons students choose to enroll part-time, but whatever the motivation, one thing is true across the board: part-time students are facing a number of competing priorities and demands for their time. Without a full-time course load, the journey to graduation becomes much longer. That means plenty of time for life to get in the way. In addition, some scholarships require full-time enrollment, limiting the financial support available to these students.
All of these factors contribute to the fact that part-time students have dramatically lower retention and persistence rates than students attending college full-time. Recognizing the unique challenges facing these students is an important step towards providing the support they need.
4. The student selected for verification.
Each year, upwards of half of Pell-eligible students are selected for verification and required to provide additional proof verifying the accuracy of their FAFSA. Unfortunately, it can often be extremely time-consuming and stressful to track down the necessary documentation. So stressful, in fact, that nearly 25 percent of students experience verification melt and don’t end up completing the process – or enrolling for the semester.
Verification isn’t a problem unique to first-year students. “Students selected one year are often selected again,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, while other students will be selected for the first time later in college. Providing support through the verification process can stop this melt in its tracks.
5. The student nearing graduation.
Too often, students end up leaving school right before they’re about to graduate. It probably happens more often than you think – a recent analysis found that nearly one in five students leaving school without a degree has completed 75 percent or more of required credits, as reported by Inside Higher Ed, and one in 10 of them has completed 90 percent of required credits. Often, these students are derailed by the same challenges that affect students throughout the college journey, from financial struggles to family emergencies. Rather than postponing graduation, supporting students through their final semesters can help keep them on track to a diploma.
Every student has a unique college experience. That’s why GradSnapp offers advanced search capabilities to help advisors identify students facing common challenges in just a few short clicks. Which students weren’t enrolled last semester? Which students were selected for verification, or may have unmet financial need for the fall? With these insights, advisors are able to tailor their support strategies to individual student needs.