How Reduced Student Drop-Out by 50%

April 27, 2022

Bootcamps and learning programs that experience significant growth often do so because of their exceptional attention to student needs. These programs tend to create systems that enable these programs to check in on how students are faring and provide support, which goes a long way in preventing churn and boosting success metrics. 

Yet, programs that grow because of their attention to student needs often experience challenges maintaining that attention at scale. 

Dunbar's number - 150 - represents a useful benchmark for when keeping a pulse on student engagement tends to break. That’s because Dunbars’ number represents the maximum number of relationships you can hold at any given time.

That said - how can bootcamps and learning programs scale beyond Dunbar's number? Below we’ll share the system that put in place to track student engagement at scale and reduce student dropout by 50% (and how you can do the same). 

The Student Engagement Problem:

Bootcamps that scale beyond 150 students often find themselves with student engagement data scattered across various channels: 

  • Slack or community platform messages (or lack thereof) 
  • Assignment submissions and grades 
  • Zoom engagement data, including attendance, poll participation, chat participation, etc. 
  • Google Calendar RSVPs
  • LMS logins and activity

What’s more, this data isn’t only collected from multiple different platforms, it might be tracked across different platforms as well - Airtable, your LMS, your CRM, etc. This makes pulling all this data together to get a holistic view of student engagement even more difficult, not to mention being able to intervene in time to catch a student at risk of churn.

What Did: prepares college students for careers in tech with no-cost coding courses, mentorship, and career support. While their aim was to provide exceptional assistance to their learners, that became more challenging as they scaled. 

To combat this, they designed a system to determine with high certainty how likely it is that someone is going to drop out so that they could intervene. Here’s what they did: 

  1. They determined specific signals that learners at risk of churn would exhibit, such as absences, missed assignment submissions, and not posting on Slack for a given period of time.
  2. They created an “At Risk Dashboard” that aggregates these key markers and determines which students are at risk. 
  3. They sent personalized messages to at risk students, aiming for at least 2 touch points. Typically these messages would include a check-in to make sure everything is okay and an offer to chat with a team member or even the CEO. 
  4. The calls themselves provided a great source of program feedback, in addition to helping these learners feel truly seen and supported.

The result? Over the years that this system was in place, estimates that they’ve reduced churn by 50%. That is, half of the people that would have likely churned without this system ended up sticking it out and successfully completing their program. Just from checking in! 

How Can You Achieve the Same?

There are a few ways you can put this system into place at your organization. 


Manually track signals important to your program (attendance data, assignment submissions, etc.) in a spreadsheet. Designate a member of your team to review this data daily and reach out to students who meet your specified criteria (miss two classes in a row, miss two assignments, etc.). 

Build a student CRM with No-Code Tools: 

Use Airtable and Zapier to build your own student CRM. Set up Zaps to auto-pull data into your student CRM Airtable, such as community engagement data from Slack, assessment data from your LMS, RSVP data from Google Calendar, and attendance data from Virtually. 

From there you can create different views to parse through raw data and extract important insights. 

Learn how to create your own student CRM (and access a free starter template!) here

Use Virtually’s Student Relationship Manager (coming soon) 

Virtually’s Student Relationship Manager (SRM) offers a fully automated option to keep tabs on your learners and intervene to prevent churn. 

The SRM automates data collection from across all of your different tools - attendance, feedback, community engagement, etc. -  flags at risk students based on custom triggers you create, and automatically reaches out to flagged learners to check in and offer support. 

Curious to learn more? Sign up for the waitlist here

Read Next: The Only 2 Questions You Need to Ask Students to Know if They’ll Succeed

Laura Marks

Laura Marks is Head of Customer Experience at Virtually