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Interest and Persistence: The Key to Helping Students Graduate

The key to helping students graduate on time and workers retaining their employees lies in the pivotal relationship between interest and persistence.

If you work in education, you’re probably already all-too-familiar with this troubling trend: many students don’t make it to graduation. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, “the 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2009 was 59 percent.” This means that, even after 6 years in 2015, over one-third of students who attempted to earn a bachelor’s degree did not. These students chose a school, invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars in their courses, and accumulated credits, but never reached the finish line.

Although high school graduation rates are “at an all-time high” according to Education Week, these are still only at “84 percent,” which means 16 percent of students aren’t getting that vital diploma. Retention remains a serious issue for high schools across the United States.

This phenomenon also bleeds into the world of work – per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 3.5 million employees voluntarily left their positions in July 2018 alone. While some of these professionals undoubtedly left in order to advance their careers, others most certainly just couldn’t stick it out. Like college students who failed to finish their degrees, these workers likely spent precious time and effort getting trained, negotiating their salaries, and figuring out their roles, only to abandon them.

Why can’t some high schoolers, college students, and even employees remain on a given course of action? What can be done to accomplish the goal of helping students graduate? The key in all of this is persistence. As a high school adviser, college student services representative, career counselor, or similar professional mentor, you’ve probably struggled to help your mentees pick a path and stay on it. Fortunately, there’s one key component you and your students can use to persist and prosper. Interested? Then you’re in exactly the right frame of mind! Read on to learn more about the important connection between interest and persistence.

Interest, Engage, Persist

If you’re terribly bored with something and have no idea how it could possibly align with your goals, it’s much harder to continue working at it. This is the situation many students find themselves in, caught up in the drudgery of their assignments without feeling at all invested in them.

However, if you’re interested in a subject, this is an entirely different story. Feeling captivated by a topic or that a particular career pathway fits with your intrinsic proclivities can inspire you to get through even the dullest, most tedious tasks. In their pioneering paper “The Nature and Power of Interests,” James Rounds and Rong Su note: “interest alignment leads to engagement, which leads to student action and achievement of your key strategic initiatives.” If students and aspirants are interested in their course material and the outcomes of their work, they fully participate in it, giving it their all. This allows them to persist with it, hanging on and working hard even through difficult times.

The relationship between interest, engagement, and persistence is far from merely theoretical. In a meta-analysis they conducted over 70 years of research, Rounds and Su found that interests were 21.7 percent predictive of “college persistence.” This means that university students who were interested in their field of study were more likely to continue on with their courses and actually earn their degrees. It follows that a similar dynamic would exist for high school students and employees pursuing their interests.

How the VitaNavis® Solution Can Help

By now, it may seem apparent that interests are an important driving factor in persistence, but how can you put this to use in helping students graduate? The key is figuring out what your mentees’ (or your own) interests actually are. That’s where the VitaNavis® platform becomes vital. Our career exploration platform offers the SuperStrong interest assessment (based on the long-established Strong Interest Inventory® tool). By spending less than 10 minutes answering questions about themselves, your mentees can gain valuable information about their interests. Furthermore, our platform correlates these results to courses of study and career options. Understanding how their interests relate to their future academic and professional plans, VitaNavis® users can fully engage and persist with their study or work.

A Case Study on Interest and Persistence

To understand interest and persistence in action, take Peyton Wells, a community college student who used VitaNavis at her institution. She recently explained her experience: “I’m majoring in Criminal Justice and I got a bunch of job results that I would be able to do with this major. And there were jobs I’d never even thought about…the tools are so helpful. It’s super easy to get more information about [these opportunities]. I’ve enjoyed reading through all the jobs and fields.” Through using our platform, Peyton better understood her academic interests and linked them with key professional opportunities. This will help her persist in her studies and reach the aims she’s truly interested in achieving.

Are You Interested in Learning More About Persistence with VitaNavis?

Visit our website to learn more and request a trial.

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