School Community is the Secret to Student Retention

Written by Kayla Smith

June 28, 2021

Student churn, when students transfer out of a school during the school year, is a serious issue that negatively impacts both students and school leaders. Frequently switching schools can lead to an increased likelihood of dropping out, decreased engagement, and lower academic achievement. Additionally, this creates a financial burden on schools, for it is more costly to enroll a new student than to retain a current student. While many factors can contribute to student churn, there are ways to prevent students from leaving your school. One key contributor to student retention is the school community. We’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to build a positive school community, so you can keep your students enrolled!

#1: Build Intentional Relationships

It’s no surprise that when teachers maintain intentional relationships with their students, learners perform better academically. Students become more comfortable asking for additional assistance and voicing their opinion. These factors contribute to their academic success, incentivizing students to stay at their current school. Additionally, staff members who strive to know their students personally create a stronger sense of belonging for students. Fostering uplifting relationships makes students feel more appreciated and understood. Moreover, this allows teachers to adequately tailor classroom instruction to suit students’ needs. Forming intentional connections applies to parents as well. Teachers and school leaders who make an effort to acquaint themselves with the families they serve significantly impacts student retention. Families who feel seen and heard by their school are far less likely to leave. This further fosters a positive school environment because parents are more likely to take on an active role in their child’s education when they feel connected to other school members.

#2: Engage With the Surrounding Community

A truly great school community does not isolate itself to the confines of the school building. Instead, the school will have an active role in supporting the surrounding neighborhood and community. Partnering with surrounding businesses and organizations is tremendously beneficial for students, providing learning and service opportunities. Additionally, businesses can provide valuable resources for the school. This mutual relationship creates a strong bond between the school and the neighborhood, strengthening both communities. Additionally, when students serve their surrounding community, it builds leadership skills. Furthermore, knowing the outside community is supporting them as a student is also an eminent contributor to students’ sense of belonging. Students will not want to leave a school when they feel they have built a connection and positively impacted their society. 

#3: Strengthen Your Support Systems

Having multiple lines of academic and emotional support is crucial to building a positive school community. Professionals on staff such as counselors play a central role in creating mental health awareness and providing the resources students need. In addition to supporting students, counselors ensure that teachers are well equipped to attend to students’ social and emotional needs within the classroom. To sustain their well-being, students must have the opportunity to receive help when they need it most. In addition to emotional support, make sure students’ academic needs are met through offering supplementary academic support. One effective method is to partner with neighboring high schools or local colleges to develop a tutoring program. This enhances academic achievement while building relationships with other centers of education, therefore strengthening the school community. Ensure your school is actively promoting the support systems offered as well as additional resources such as SafeToTell, so students know they are in a safe and supportive environment.

#4: Celebrate Diversity and Inclusivity

There is nothing worse than feeling like an outcast, especially as a growing adolescent. Celebrating diversity and inclusivity is a vital aspect of cultivating a welcoming environment. Take a look at the diversity, inclusion, and equity priorities and policies implemented at your school. Do any of these need to be reexamined to ensure all students feel welcomed and receive an equitable education? Prioritizing diversity and inclusivity and intertwining them into the curriculum can help all students feel seen. Additionally, growing up in a community that prioritizes inclusivity and diversity helps mold students into kinder global citizens. Feeling ostracized at school is a serious contributor to student churn. However, you can take steps to prevent this by fostering a positive community by embracing and celebrating diversity and inclusivity.

#5: Increase Extracurricular Availability

In addition to promoting a positive atmosphere during school hours, extracurricular activities give students the opportunity to build this community beyond classroom walls. Students can connect with their peers, learn new skills, build work ethic, and create valuable opportunities for themselves. Many of the strongest friendships are formed during extracurricular activities, creating a greater sense of belonging while at school. Furthermore, athletic events, music recitals, and theater shows are great ways to bring together the whole community of students, parents, and staff. Students involved in their school beyond just academics are far more likely to remain at that school.

The environment of your school can make or break a students’ learning experience. Cultivating a positive community starts with a unified staff working together to uplift students and pursue the school’s mission. Ultimately, the secret to student retention comes down to the school community. However, student retention issues can arise in schools even with outstanding communities, and Schola is here to help. Schola strives to revolutionize the enrollment and retention process. Schola helps schools attract student leads, increase engagement, and ace enrollment goals, freeing up time and resources to be refocused on students. Together, we can minimize churn and maximize educational outcomes!


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