What Drives Student Success in Higher Education?

Written by Explorance.

Students studying

The world of Higher Education is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of its students, but no period has seen more change than the last decade. Students are different, have different learning styles, not to mention different priorities than they used to. Higher Education Institutions have had to pivot to meet their demands quickly.

Student success is no longer limited to a narrow concept of academic achievement. While learners still look for knowledge when enrolling in a Higher Education program, the focus for many is much more than that. Student engagement, networking, workforce readiness, and a feeling of belonging are all tied to student success, and the academic institution that can deliver on these will see a decrease in dropout rates and an increase in graduation rates.

This article will provide an overview of the main pillars of student success and explain how your institution can put them into effect.

Adjusting Teaching Practices to Drive Student Success

Higher education students’ age range, expectations, and schedules have significantly changed in recent years. Instructors must adapt their teaching styles to provide the learning experience modern students are looking for.

Very few universities can get by through their prestige alone, and teaching style has become a major selling point when students consider an institution of higher learning. Students want a Higher Education Institution that fits within their lifestyles and supports them through their career evolution, and teaching flexibility is at the center of this trend.

Flexible learning

This most often refers to remote and hybrid learning, which is a big talking point at the moment. With adult students on the rise, more flexible learning is a crucial type of offering that Higher Education Institutions must provide to the same standard as their traditional in-person classes.

However, flexible learning can also be applied to in-person classes. For example, a popular course can be broken down into smaller categories and offered more frequently during the semester at various times and days of the week to accommodate as many students as possible. While this can be a significant salary investment for the school, it always impacts student success.

Co-operative education programs

There is a good reason certain degrees like engineering or business often require co-operative (co-op) opportunities to graduate. These hands-on learning experiences are crucial in developing specific skills that cannot be learned in a conventional academic setting.

Higher Education Institutions should consider offering them whenever possible, especially in degrees that might not have the most straightforward career opportunities tied to them. In these cases, co-op opportunities can not only be teaching moments for the students but also provide them with valuable insights into potential workforce applications of their degrees.

Progressive curriculums

Course design is one of the hottest topics in the education world. Typical lecture-based teaching will always have a place in higher education, but today’s students need experiential learning to succeed.

This can take more work to achieve in specific fields. Still, all higher education instructors should be left the freedom by their employers to build curriculums with good experiences with their students to integrate the course content better.

Campus Resources

A Higher Education Institution’s campus is almost like a living, breathing entity and is a critical differentiator in student success. The level of support students receive from the campus services and facilities can have an incredible impact on their success at your institution.

Here are a few of the critical services any good campus should focus on:


While tutoring is a relatively common service on many campuses, it is often too general and needs to be more focused on the actual needs of the student body. Run frequent student experience surveys and gather data about what your students are struggling with, and try to tailor your tutoring services to that effect.

For example, you might be overlooking a population of international students needing help getting their thoughts out on paper in your institution’s official language. Additionally, ensure that students have access to tutoring in faculties that might not be their main field of study but could see a lot of good crossovers.

Academic advisors

Pursuing a higher education degree can be a confusing experience since students might change their minds about their academic paths as they learn new subjects and specialize in specific fields.

Their instructors often need to be more focused on knowledge transfer to adequately advise students regarding the direction they should take in their studies. Offering the support of a dedicated group of professionals can help students find the best avenues for them within your institution.

Career services

One of the biggest disconnects modern students experience with the higher education world is workforce readiness. A degree is often a massive financial engagement for most of the population, and people want to be sure they have a career after completing their studies.

In the same way, students might need advisors to guide them through the best path to finish their degree; their academic endeavours must be adequately tied to their future career prospects to ensure their success.

Student Feedback

Pursuing a higher education degree can leave students feeling like they are simply going through the motions and what is imposed on them. One of the best drivers of student success is to make them feel like they have an authentic voice and that their institution is listening to them.

A comprehensive student feedback program is directly tied to the success of your student body.

Having the proper data

To enact lasting change that truly impacts student success, you must have an in-depth feedback-gathering solution. A technological platform like Explorance Blue is essential to analyze the data and see the trending topics that matter to your students.

Add in machine learning analysis, and you’ll be able to detect sentiment within the open-ended feedback you gathered, allowing you to understand the level of importance of each comment sent to you by students.

Giving your students a voice

Gathering feedback on subjects like class difficulty and campus services is only the beginning. It would be best to put changes directly related to the trends you discovered after analyzing the data.

Try to be as transparent as possible during this process, ideally publishing all results on a publicly available platform so that all students can see your efforts and understand why specific changes and solutions have been selected over others.


Student success must be a critical metric for Higher Education Institutions. Not only is it the duty of such institutions to ensure that most students get a good experience, but student success has also become a significant selling point in an era where competition has never been stronger in the world of education.

Most of the initiatives mentioned to bolster student success are things a modern, forward-thinking institution should implement for various reasons. The fact that they also improve student success is a fantastic bonus that gives a very high ROI to all these measures.

Higher educationLearningStudent feedbackStudent SuccessStudent voice

Automate your Course evaluations with best-in-class software.

Stay connected
with the latest products, services, and industry news.