“Why do only half of college students graduate? Noncognitive factors seem pivotal, and social disconnection appears to be a crucial factor. When students feel alone, they withdraw and eventually give up. Conversely, students who feel part of a community persist.”
I saw this in an article this morning, and I think it is an important part of how we can improve recruiting and graduation trends at universities. While it is important that education is priced in a way that students can manage, and it is vitally important that the education is high quality, I agree that the feeling of being part of a community is a big part of student success. We can learn stuff on our own, but it is more rewarding to do it as part of a larger community of like mined people with similar goals and aspirations. Faculty participation in events like award ceremonies, new student convocations, and graduations (all of the rituals of academia) helps the students see themselves as part of a broader community that includes their teachers and mentors. I think that is more important than some of us realize.