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5 Ways to Increase Student Retention Rate in Your Online Course

The eLearning market has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, but low student retention is a problem that still worries many instructors.

According to research, online courses average rates of completion are about 13%. This means that only 1 in 10 students will complete your course.

5 Ways to Increase Student Retention Rate in Your Online Course

Student Retention: How to Keep Your Online Students 

Low levels of student retention in online courses can pose serious problems for entrepreneurs seeking long-term gains.

While tuition is a success, the cost of attracting new students is always higher than the cost of retaining existing ones.

In fact, Philip Kotler, a great visionary and marketing consultant, said: ‘Keeping a customer costs 5 to 7 times less than getting a new one.’

Therefore, implementing student retention strategies in online courses definitely pays off.

It must be considered, however, that there are several reasons why students cannot complete a course and not all of them can be remedied by the educator.

Many people who enroll in online courses have a steady job and have little time for parallel study.

Another reason given by a study indicates that more than a third of online students said they had no intention of completing the course when they enrolled.

These students are not motivated to follow a conventional course structure from start to finish. They prefer to come in, take advantage of the information offered as they see fit or until they feel they understand the course material. 

In any case, knowing why your students do not complete the course and understanding how to identify signs of attrition before they become problematic can positively affect the success rate and longevity of your course.

See below 5 approaches to help increase your student retention rate.

1. Put yourself in the students’ shoes

To understand why students drop out of your course, you need to switch places and try to see things from their perspective.

As a starting point, consider the platform of your course. Does it have an easy-to-navigate layout? 

Access and use your own course as a student does, or ask someone to do it for you and give feedback. 

Stay tuned for data and performance reports provided by your LMS platform and review any modules that have a below average completion rate. 

LMS platform: what is it?

Sometimes a simple fix is ​​enough to improve your student retention rate.

Teaching using different methods also helps maintain involvement. Not everyone likes to read long articles, or listen to a podcast and there are even those who don’t enjoy videos. 

Fortunately, one of the great advantages of online courses is that you can easily apply the most varied resources to make your classes interesting and keep the student engaged.

In general, pay attention to the learning curve of the course. If many students drop out because they find the content too complex and difficult to follow, divide your course into shorter, more accessible classes.

How to Build a Successful Online Course

This not only opens up new revenue possibilities, but also eases the burden on the student and allows them to learn more calmly and feel less pressured. 

2. Be honest about course requirements

You must make clear the prerequisites of your course and all of this information must be communicated before the student signs up as part of your marketing.

This may seem counterintuitive, as we often think of marketing only as a means of communicating benefits and value, but providing details about the content covered and the participation needed to successfully complete learning ensures that students make a conscious decision.

In addition to setting clear guidelines on what type and level of knowledge people must have to enroll in your course, you should also state what you expect during class and why.

Demotivation is a serious problem in distance learning and is a major contributor to low student retention rates.

Fight it by setting milestones and holding students accountable for their own progress, performance and results.

3. Facilitate engagement 

There are three basic requirements to encourage student engagement with your online course.

How to engage your students

The first of these is the meaning, the sense that your participation in the course and the effort employed are relevant and are bringing results.

To reinforce meaning:

  • Make sure your course contains opportunities for your students to test their knowledge (tests, quizzes, assignments, etc.).
  • Make sure students receive meaningful feedback. Not just “You’re doing well, keep it up!” Or “No, sorry, try again.” But a particular approach in response to their performance in activities and assessments. And always look for opportunities for students to give feedback to each other.
  • Create tension between where students are now and where they want to be – and then resolve that tension by teaching them how to get there.

Another necessary condition for student engagement and consequent retention is security, the feeling students have of being able to participate in something new without fear of failure, embarrassment, and damage to self-image, status, or career. 

To promote a sense of security:

  • Make sure that empathy is part of your teaching method, that is, strive to really understand students’ needs and desires and focus on supporting their learning. 
  • Have policies that make it clear that privacy and confidentiality will be respected. This will help students express their opinions, ask questions and share concerns.
  • Inform students that they are expected to make mistakes, and indeed mistakes are good because they are valuable tools in learning. So be careful not to embarrass anyone for mistakes, but instead give positive and constructive feedback that helps the student understand what to do differently in the future.

And the third condition necessary for involvement to be possible is availability. Availability is the feeling of having the physical, emotional, and psychological resources needed to participate in a learning experience. 

To support the feeling of availability:

  • Make sure your content is divided into manageable segments. You do not want to overwhelm your students and give the impression that they will never reach the end.
  • Make sure your content is “leveled” precisely, that is, it is aligned with the previous knowledge and experience of the students you specified as a prerequisite for the course. 
  • Finally, make clear in advance what students need to participate fully in the learning experience. This can range from speakers and programs like excel, to pre-reading some specific material.

4. Make the student feel part of a group

Isolation is a key factor for distance learning students to become unmotivated and unable to complete courses. 

The good news is that whether you are teaching ten students or a thousand, it is easy on the Internet to create support groups and networks for everyone to speak up and receive answers.

Defining group activities or naming study partners helps create learning responsibility and encourages communication.

The sense of duty and connection with colleagues is an incentive for those who struggle with the urge to simply give up.

Encourage student retention by encouraging class relationships, creating study groups and chat spaces using social media, organizing regular hangouts, and even organizing face-to-face meetings.

Emphasizing the community is another valuable approach to creating the sense of security mentioned above. 

Of course, these are “safe” spaces where mistakes are normal and all are accepted for who they are and their current abilities. 

5. Be an involved teacher

Interpersonal relationships are not only important among students. Your students chose you for a reason, and showing that you are present and paying attention to the course given is important to them.

Ensure your accessibility by keeping a regular time to talk and answering any questions your students may have promptly. 

Provide immediate, positive and critical feedback, and encourage your students to discuss what they are learning and what their difficulties are.  

How to Improve Communication With Students

To encourage retention in your online courses, create an intervention strategy for students with difficulties. 

Writing a personal email or making a video call for students who are falling behind can turn failure into success. 

By paying individual attention to each student, you show that they are being noticed and therefore their absence would also be noticed. 

Keep your feedback constructive and open to further discussion when a student has questions about his/her performance.

No one likes to feel that they are failing, and in an optional environment such as an online course, many students choose to move away rather than solve their difficulties. 

By having frequent conversations with your students, they will be more comfortable addressing their concerns, giving you a greater opportunity to retain students.

Student Retention and e-Learning Platform

Student Retention and e-Learning Platform

High student retention rates may seem like an impossible goal to achieve, but by implementing the points covered in this post, you have a great chance of keeping your audience engaged and ensuring the long-term success of your online course. 

However, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the e-Learning platform chosen to host your online course.

For teaching to be facilitated and learning to be enjoyable, a well-built Learning Management System (LMS) with all the resources needed for online teaching is required.

Whats is a Learning Management System

In addition, an LMS has several features that your business will need, such as integration with other content platforms and means of receiving online payment.

Complete eLearning platform, is the ideal solution for those who want to create, sell and advertise courses on the internet.

Serving businesses and professionals in more than 60 countries, the platform is a dynamic and customizable Learning Management System. has three plan options for you to decide which one best suits your needs, and the good news is the Beginner Plan is free!

To know more, visit our site, test the platform and start now selling online courses.