Today, most entry-level jobs require a postsecondary degree and previous relevant work experience. The labor market is a competitive environment where even the most hardworking, low-income/working students are at a disadvantage before the job search even begins.
On the other hand, high income students who can afford not to work have more time and resources to pursue internships, summer programs, study abroad, and grad school. They’re also at an advantage when it comes to attending the school of their choice and finding jobs related to their field of study. While higher-income students typically work to gain experience, build a resume, or pursue a passion, lower-income students are more likely to work to meet basic needs first.
For low-income students, working is more of a necessity than a choice, especially if they have dependents. It’s a lot of pressure to balance school, a job, and a family all at once. It can make one feel out of place, not to mention disconnected when they get home from work and start studying after tutoring centers have closed and TA’s are unavailable. Working more than 15 hours per week can have a significant impact on grades, morale, and persistence, leading to lower completion rates.
Here are some eye-opening stats:
- In the past 25 years, more than 70% of college students worked while enrolled—that’s about 14 million students, 19% of whom have children.
- 25% of all working learners are both employed and enrolled in college full-time.
- In 2015, 69% of low-income high school completers vs. 83% of higher-income high school completers were enrolled in college.
- 75.3% of first generation students compared to 56.4% of non-first-generation students predict they’ll need to find work during their freshman year.
Now what if you could increase retention, even just by 1%. Would you do it? It sounds small, but if you have a student body of 10,000, that’s 100 more students completing their degree. That’s a big deal.
Schools Are Responsible for Setting Students up for Success
Colleges and universities have a responsibility to ensure students have what they need to succeed and don’t fall off the radar. Faculty and administration shouldn’t expect students to come knocking every time they have a problem, especially after they’ve left for the day and a student is sitting down to study at 9pm after the kids are in bed. Schools must be proactive. Yes, students have a responsibility to go to class, commit to their studies, and work hard—but that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone.
If you have the resources to help your students succeed, you should make the first move to ensure they’re easily accessible and available 24/7. Ultimately, students are responsible for persistence and hard work, and the school is responsible for retention.
Retention suffers when students don’t have access to the right resources at the right time. Pursuing higher education isn’t an arbitrary decision. For low-income students, it’s a costly, time-intensive investment not to be taken lightly. To start school only to give it up because academic resources aren’t designed for students who work or have a family is devastating.
An App Designed to Meet Students Where They Are
Jonathan Kinsey, instructional designer at Collegis Education, says, “Institutions invest a lot of time and money into the best things but rarely invest equal energy into making sure those things are used to benefit the student experience. Something shiny and fancy is no good if it doesn’t provide a good user experience for.” At EVAN360, we couldn’t agree more.
Our goal at EVAN360 is to provide a tool that allows students to find the right support exactly when they need it. It’s designed for any college, university, technical school, or trade school seeking to improve retention and the student experience.
The simple app connects students to the right person for help, whether they need academic advising, career advice, mentorship, financial aid assistance, coursework help, or something else. The app is customizable to meet the needs of students at your school. It’s available 24/7 via smartphone app or web browser so students can connect anytime, anywhere.
Ultimately, EVAN360 enables educational institutions to meet students where they are by providing timely and accessible resources that enrich the student experience.