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Emotional stress has been revealed as one of the top reasons for rising student drop-out rates at college, according to Gallup’s ‘The State of Higher Education Report 2022’. The report highlights the growing need for institutions to understand the whole of the student journey. This includes the struggles they face and the support they need. Following the report’s release, The Chronicle of Higher Education observed the US Surgeon General’s recent call for colleges to invest more in student mental health services. He also called for them to use student data to identify at-risk or struggling students.

Gallup’s report adds to the growing data on the current student mental health crisis. It also points to the growing student retention concerns in the sector. Research shows that student mental health has significantly worsened in the last two years. In addition, the number of students returning to their college courses has been in decline.

Emotional stress has been revealed as one of the top reasons for rising student drop-out rates at college.

stressed student doing college work and study

What Can Institutions Do?

The best thing institutions can do for their students is to implement strategies to protect and support their wellbeing. Ensure all students, especially at-risk students are aware of supports. This is especially important for incoming first years and disadvantaged students or mature students. Using student data to keep track of how students are doing and identify any potential warning signs is an effective strategy. Falling attendance levels, disengagement with course content and declining academic progress are crucial early indicators that a student needs support.

Key innovations that can help support student wellbeing and improve retention include:

  • An early alert system to identify at-risk students to staff.
  • Attendance monitoring to keep track of student participation.
  • Predictive analytics to understand which students are least engaged.
  • A case management system to ensure no student gets lost in the paperwork and monitor their journey to get back on track.

Colleges and universities have a responsibility to protect student wellbeing and promote student success. The answers for how best to support students lie right in front of us in their behaviour. Using this data correctly is crucial to improving outcomes.

For more on improving student retention and tackling rising student drop-out rates, check out our blog here.