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A leadership academy developed for students who are doing well academically at Thomas College helps ensure they also feel connected socially. This focus on low-risk students has resulted in greater retention rates over a three-year period.

For decades, colleges and universities have used big data to track high-risk students and intervene as needed. Now a growing number of institutions are using data tools to track and analyze another group: successful students.

Fulfilling a connection need: Troy University’s Trojan Cafe (left) has had more than 19,000 users in the past year, and Northern Virginia Community College’s virtual student union (right), still in expansion mode, has had about 500 users so far.

For all the advantages of online learning—flexibility, personalization and affordability among them—there can be downsides for some students. Online students may feel isolated and disconnected from their peers and from their college or university—and risk losing the engagement so crucial to student success.

Community colleges have achieved the goal of providing broader and cheaper access to higher education. Now, experts and administrators say, the focus must turn more aggressively toward student success and completion.

In an era when prospective students and their parents can learn about hundreds of schools from the comfort of their homes, the in-person campus tour offers a golden opportunity to tip the scales in your favor. But too often, these tours follow the same staid formulas.

Models of Excellence honorees from five colleges and universities were recognized at the program’s inaugural awards ceremony during NACUBO. Pictured (left to right) are Mandy Eppley, Eastern Kentucky University; Daniel Kinnaman, UB; Andy Clark, Valdosta State University; Anna Jensen, Indiana University; Bill Thrisk, Marist College; Shane Burgess, The University of Arizona; Jeff Ratje, The University of Arizona; and Andrew Crawford, Higher One. (Photo: Erika Chambers Photography)

Recognizing colleges and universities that make student success a priority through innovative initiatives is the purpose of UB’s new Models of Excellence award program.

To honor recipient schools from the first two rounds of the program, a celebratory dinner was hosted by the program’s sponsor, Higher One, during NACUBO’s annual meeting in Nashville in July. The event was held at the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where the conference was located.

On campus to walk: Graduates of Southern New Hampshire University’s online College for America program are invited to participate in the graduation ceremonies at the institution’s Manchester campus.

After years of quiet evolution, the competency-based education movement is now poised for explosive growth, with several hundred colleges and universities developing programs that fundamentally redefine the college degree.

Fans at a University of New Haven football game might notice an odd sideline sight: medical personnel with their heads hunched over smartphones. But these athletic trainers are not checking text messages or updating their Facebook status. Rather, they are monitoring real-time data about the force of their players’ on-field collisions.

Source: “Self-Reported Concussion among NCAA Student-Athletes,” NCAA, February 2014 (Click to enlarge)

Wrestling, ice hockey and football have the highest concussion rates among men's sports. Ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse top the list for women.

Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities—it’s the expectation.

Today’s progressive student success initiatives start even before first semester classes convene. The colleges and universities honored in the second round of UB’s national Models of Excellence awards program have found that easing students’ transition from high school to higher ed increases the likelihood they will remain enrolled and graduate.