How Can I Minimize Student Dropouts?
How do you seek to increase student retention?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Student drop outs are inevitable, but they can be minimized through best practices proven to increase student excitement, engagement and longevity.

Schools may experience very different dropout rates and those difference can have very different effects on your school.

School owners who track and monitor their school dropouts and new enrollments have a high opportunity to devise means of adjusting their results in both areas.  Consider the following examples and estimated impact on a school.

Calculating Your School's Retention Ratio:

*Rough estimation of financial impact on the school of this attrition scenario:  (New student recruitment same as Scenario 2.  At year end 3 less students than year beginning X $1000 annual tuition, uniforms, test fees, event fees, etc.) = <-$3,000> School Loss

  • Est Gross School Revenue: 22 x $1000 = $22,000


Imagine Reducing Dropouts By Half:

*Rough estimation of financial impact on the school of this attrition scenario:  (New student recruitment same as Scenario 1. At year end 9 additional students from year beginning X $1000 annual tuition, uniforms, test fees, event fees, etc.) =  $3,000 School Gain

  • Est Gross School Revenue: 28 x $1000 = $28,000


Imagine Increasing New Student Recruits By Half:

*Rough estimation of financial impact on the school of this attrition scenario:  (Student attrition same as Scenario 2.  At year end 12 additional students from year beginning X $1000 annual tuition, uniforms, test fees, event fees, etc.) =  $12,000 School Gain

  • Est Gross School Revenue: 37 x $1000 = $37,000


If you had to choose between figuring out how to GET one more new student per month than you normally do (Scenario 3)  or KEEP twelve (one per month) of your existing students from quitting (Scenario 2), which one would you choose to prioritize and focus your attention on the most?


Enter Your School Stats To See How You'll Do

Download this spreadsheet to see how you are doing and/or to project how you would like to do.  You can only enter data in the yellow highlighted fields. The sheet will update when you change the values in the yellow fields.  New entries overwrite existing entries.


Inevitable “Dropout Factors”:

National statistics reveal that annually about 25% of all people move, change jobs, experience life changing events (births, divorce, deaths, elder care, etc.)  or encounter schedule changes or scheduling conflicts that cause them to stop training and unfortunately these factors are beyond the control of the instructor or school to overcome.

However, roughly another 25% of students cease training for a number of different reasons which are within the ability of instructors and school to address and in doing so increase the longevity of more students and minimize dropouts.


Other “dropout factors” may include:

  • Training no longer meets the needs that drove student to begin in the first place
  • Class scenarios not addressing the real-life situations the student is facing (bullying,etc.)
  • Not enough realism in the training and applications
  • Not enough affirmation among peers of student achievements
  • Too long between testing opportunities
  • Boring classes and lack of variety
  • Instructor talks too much
  • Instructor talks too little
  • Adults being mixed with kids where class progress is too slow
  • Kids being mixed with adults where class progress is too fast
  • Being admonished by an instructor in front of other students
  • Being struck or contacted by another student during class
  • Fear of testing

Of course things happen and students do quit, but the fewer that quit, the stronger your school becomes. What can be done to minimize these reasons for student drop outs?   How do you seek to increase student retention in your school?

Are you systematic and consistent about employing practices that are known to improve student retention?

Or do you do you employ a best practice for a while and then revert to comfortable old habits?

Things Other Martial Art Schools Are Doing To Increase Student Retention [Disclaimer]

  • Teach to the real-life circumstances students are facing that made them start training
  • Employ Encouraging Language During Class (100 phrases, etc.)
  • Frequent rank promotions
  • Positive affirmation of student accomplishments among peers
  • Close class with a teaser about next class or event, etc. that you want the student to attend
  • Use Story Telling and Cliff Hangers to create student curiosity and desire to attend the next class
  • Acknowledge Student Progress Sooner Than Later in Front of Peers
  • Recognize Student Progress Frequently (rank advancement)
  • Reprimand in Private (when possible)
  • Tuition Commitment
  • High Energy Classes (how long?)
  • Schedule School Holiday Breaks (prevent students from struggling with decision about whether or not to attend class or attend family focused events)
  • Disguise Repetition
  • Offer Special Interest Classes and Seminars
  • Use technology to automate communications with students and parents
  • Use technology to increase frequency of communication with parents and students
  • other

Imagine if you could learn and apply proven techniques that can reduce dropout percentages to single digits.

How many students would you have in class today if none of them had ever quit training.

Would that be good for your school?

Please share your retention strategies and tactics using the comment section below.


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