Copley Retention Services is one of several companies that offers offers technology-based systems intended to keep students on track to graduate on time from college. It uses “a combination of over 20 data points to flag students who may be at risk of dropping out”.
One in three college freshmen don’t return for their sophomore year. It’s a sombering statistic not just for students, but also for universities that miss out on tuition dollars.
Student retention services appears to be a growing field.
Forecasting student success is a hot business, and the industry has seen major consolidations this year. In February, Starfish Retention Solutions and GradesFirst have been acquired, respectively, by Hobsons and Education Advisory Board, two companies trying to move the needle on college completion rates. Earlier this week, Uversity was bought by TargetX, both of which provide data analytics to help colleges boost student recruitment and retention. Learning management systems like Desire2Learn also boast their own student success tools.
This need is also increasingly felt at the K-12 level, with startups like LearnSprout building early warning systems that tap into student information systems for signs that can help elementary and high school students stay on track.
Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has partnered with other parties to invest $1.5 million in Copley. He explains how colleges benefit from retention services.
Copley makes higher education more efficient. It is expensive to lose students or have them drag on their education over an extended period. Copley is the leader in helping schools address the needs of at-risk students. That is money in the bank for the school.
Of course, students benefit also.
If we can get more at-risk kids to graduate in four years or less, all while not over-taxing the support services of the school, tuition may have a slight chance of staying flat or going down.
But for many “at-risk kids”, all the tracking and remedial efforts may not be enough if they lack family support as well as the fundamental competencies that should have been taught in K-12. It remains to be seen if these retention services are able to make a dent in the college drop-out problem. However, if these services are funded by taxpayer dollars I don’t put much faith in how carefully their efficacy will be assessed.