One of the aims of my daily job, and this blog, is to promote and support student success. But what does success look like for a student? Success will look different for different students, but many students will see it as attaining the degree they chose to study or completing that degree with a certain grade. I think most people would probably recognise that definition of success, yet for some students success might not involve them completing their degree at all. If a student is really not enjoying their course then transferring to a different course, perhaps at another institution, or leaving education altogether and getting a job might well the best and most successful outcome for them. This view of success makes sense when we take an holistic view of a student; as tutors supporting students holistically we should consider outcomes like these.
Universities spend much time and effort agonising over the subject of retention - encouraging students to remain at university until the completion of their studies. Although they are linked, success and retention are not the same thing. As a speaker at the NACADA Global Conference 2015 observed 'success is something students do, retention is something universities do'. Helping some students to pursue paths other than completing a degree may not be desirable to university management and may put tutors in conflict with them, but if we are serious about helping students succeed then we must help and support them in achieving the best outcome for them, whatever that may be.