Improving the Student Experience

A regionally accredited college wanted to increase retention among new students.


Ferguson Insights worked closely with the client to identify the most beneficial student segments and lifecycle stages to include in the research. In-depth interviews were conducted with admitted students who did not to enroll and new students who withdrew during their first quarter. Conversations explored expectations of and experiences with key aspects of the admissions process and becoming a new student. We discovered several problem areas that caused applicants and new students to disengage. Upon learning about these issues, client leadership decided to look more broadly at its student base to identify pain points later in the experience and to understand whether differences existed between academic programs. A quantitative phone survey was completed with 200 students who had more experience with the college, but still hadn’t reached the point at which persistence was more certain. These interviews gathered feedback about a variety experiences and interactions throughout the student journey, and measured awareness, usage and satisfaction with support services. More than 80% of students invited to participate in the phone survey shared their experiences, providing a highly representative sample from which to make decisions.


Ferguson Insights presented the research findings at the client’s annual conference of more than 120 leaders and staff members. In addition to discovering problems during the admissions process that caused new students to leave, four specific issues were identified as critical to improve satisfaction and retention among students.