Student retention remains one of higher education's biggest challenges--and one that must be solved for the nation's future success.

Student retention is the critical element for the nation’s success

College completion remains one of higher education's biggest challenges--and one that must be solved

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series examining the aspects of recruitment, enrollment, and retention on U.S. campuses. Check back next Monday for a look at how OER can play a role in student retention.

Key points:

  • College completion, and not just access, is essential for the nation
  • New learning modalities and extending learning opportunities play a role in expanding college completion

Making higher education the norm for everyone in the nation—and ensuring that people have not just access to higher education, but that universities support student retention for drive students to complete their education—is paramount to the nation’s future success, said Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Duncan, who is a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, sat down during a session at last year’s EDUCAUSE conference and discussed some of the biggest challenges higher education is facing—and college access and completion dominated the conversation.

Questions came from Michael Berman, retired CIO, California State University, Office of the Registrar; Brian Baute, industry principal for education with RingCentral; and Jessie Minton, vice chancellor for technology and CIO of Washington University in St. Louis.

“We’ve seen tremendous innovation and adaptation over the past couple of years. How do we [create] the chance to not just go to college, but graduate, for folks across the country the norm?” Duncan said. “The truth is that less than half the nation has a college degree. If we’re going to close the gap between the haves and have-nots, the challenge for all of us is how we start to education exponentially more young people. It’s not about access, but completion.”

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Laura Ascione

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