The Secret to Increased Student Retention

There is a big push in our local community and technical college system to both increase retention and move more students towards degree completion.  This is an ongoing struggle, as we are working with students whose lives are split between work, family and school. Sometimes it feels like the harder we - the institutions -  try, the harder it gets. My own institution, Renton Technical College, has an open entry system that  allows for anyone in the community to register for the program of their choice with relative ease and get started on learning job skills.  The problem is keeping them until program completion.  Why would someone invest the time, money and effort  in starting a program only to leave after one or two quarters? The pat "look on the positive side" answer is usually that they found a job; the less flattering one is that their language skills or study skills weren't up to par.  But amazingly,  it is never that they weren't being taught well.

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