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We cover topics relevant to Higher Education, Career and Proprietary Schools.
In this 2nd part of my 3-part Blog series: Parallels: Provide Guidance, Engagement and Resources to Increase Enrollment, Retention and Referrals, I identify how basic reward systems can help with engagement and retention. While these are strategies used to improve student achievement, Recruiters need to include this information in their recruiting strategy. The older demographic of the Career school student, needs additional resources and encouragements that may not have been available during their K12 experience. Communicating what you have to offer -by example, will go a long way to improving your recruiting. And as you’ll see by the end of this article, will generate referrals to build your recruiting pipeline.
Recognition and rewards strengthen student resolve and build motivation. But please be cautious not to over-simplify this process. Too often you see the word “Success” used, when “Accomplishment” is more accurate and better defines the actual circumstances. Don’t diminish your students’ achievements with over-hyped praise. Adult learners are often best supported with balanced, legitimate recognition. Understand, adult learners, are probably used to, even fed up with, the current practices of over-praise and "awards for participation” for children, they’ll know when you’re doing it to them. To keep adults encouraged and engaged, recognize actual achievements.
Communicating your “Culture of Achievement” during the Recruiting process can bolster student confidence in the ability of your school to support and engage them. Communicating that you know the difference between success and accomplishment can make you believable.
In this competitive Career Schools market, the ability to communicate that you provide ongoing encouragement, with real-world & grounded solutions, can go a long way to earning someone as a new student. This functionality is also core to student engagement and can dramatically improve retention rates, depth of knowledge, and very importantly, referrals.
Some Quick Suggestions to Enhance Your Learning Environment:
Provide Motivational award sessions every month
- Honors list
Successful externships Lists,
- Passing certifications,
- and getting a job
- Give out Lapel Pins as well as paper certificates as the Awards
- The ability to publicly present their success, and your schools pride in their abilities, is a powerful motivator
- On your internal student Website, create a Recognition Page to showcase the award winners
- Photos are appreciated by all, remember if this is viewable by family, it can be a powerful motivator
- Keep this page updated and timely
- If you don’t have a student recognition web section, add it!
- Create and encourage Student-lead organizations
- Provide Industry Specific Peer Advisors & Tutors
- Hold Regular Student Appreciation Days
- Spring or Summer picnics where students can bring their family for fun in the sun
- Bowling nights / Leagues
- Running / exercise clubs
- Robot Wars teams
- Schedule Volunteer activities that can build bonds
- Blood drives
- Campus clubs
- Tutoring- possibly for extra credit
- Industry specific activities
- Spring Break volunteer opportunities
- Hold Student contests that can build camaraderie through friendly competition Contests should focus on the outcomes that are most important to your students’ success:
- Attendance goals,
- Passing certification exams,
- Raising money for charities.
- If you don’t already, add formal graduation ceremonies
- These build a sense of accomplishment for the student and their support structures (parents, family, colleagues, etc.)
Career school courses and programs vary greatly in length, so some of the above ideas may not be ideal for your specific situation, but use the list to spark your imagination and create your own programs.
Search for ways to provide methods to encourage growth and to help students succeed and fully engage in the learning process. The more you can promote a sense of belonging and of achievement, the better you can reinforce the material and graduate top-notch professionals who represent the type of employee that your market wants to hire. And that is your true measure of success. This, of course, is both their goal, and very importantly, yours.
There’s no better time than now to expand your “Culture of Achievement” strategies to build confidence in your students, helping them to engage and feel a sense of belonging and community with your school.
In my final part of the 3-part Blog series Parallels: Provide Guidance, Engagement and Resources to Increase Enrollment, Retention and Referrals, I outline ways to highlight the end result – the career, as a way to recruit and to improve engagement. I also point out how to serve more than one master: the Student, and the Employer.