Technology, interaction can bring big retention gains to small colleges

Some small colleges have taken cues from large campuses struggling with retention rates.

Electronic lists detailing which students are in danger of dropping out of college have become a favorite of campus administrators trying to curtail falling retention rates. Classes teaching what students should expect during their higher education careers, however, are often the most critical piece of a student retention initiative.

A number of colleges and universities have created in-house retention software that alerts officials when a student is failing her classes or behind on tuition payments, and educational technology companies have for years marketed management systems and online programs that have, in many cases, helped steadily decrease the number of students quitting school less than halfway through their academic careers.

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