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Boosting graduation rates

App Factory

You know your new multidisciplinary internship program is going to be a hit when, early on, a graduating intern posts his résumé on Monster.com and lands a job right away— followed by weeks of hounding by rabid recruiters. He had to change his phone number to get the calls to stop.

What made him such a hot commodity? His experience at the App Factory, a year-round paid internship program at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Captains Anchored for Success: A Universitywide Retention Program Enhanced by Technology

Jeannine Leger, director of academic support services at Christopher Newport in Newport News, Virginia, has a concise description of who has a vested interest in college students’ success: “Everybody at the institution.”

That mindset helps to explain the breadth of departments contributing to the university’s decade-long retention program, Captains Anchored for Success.

Bridge Scholars Program

Emily Chan, a social psychologist who studies how prejudice affects academic achievement, brings a research-based approach to supporting the students from underrepresented backgrounds who participate in Colorado College’s Bridge Scholars Program.

Chan, an associate dean for academic programs and strategic initiatives at the Colorado Springs institution, cites 15 years of studies that illustrate the importance of integrating such students into the full collegiate environment.

Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes

That an NCAA Division I school provides its student-athletes with academic support services is hardly news. What differentiates Louisiana State University’s efforts is that its support encompasses more than just academics.

LSU’s Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes comprises both an academic affairs division and a student affairs division. The goal is to support student-athletes in their studies as well as in financial literacy, health and wellness, dealing with the media, and other areas.

Personalized Achievement Contract Program

Because so many of the students at Mercy College are the first in their family to reach higher education, they aren’t likely to have a home-based support system to help them navigate some of the basics of attending college.

“They can’t go to mom or dad or Uncle Bill and say, ‘How did you pick a major?’ or ‘How did you decide what you wanted to go into as a career?’ ” says Catherine Cioffi, director of public relations at the Hispanic-serving institution, located in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program

With as many as 24 percent of National University’s students having served in the military, officials saw a need to support the transition to civilian life and college.

So the San Diego-based institution created the Veteran Student Academic Intervention Program in 2012 to help members of the military earn their degree.

Academic support was the greatest need reported by the university’s military students. Approximately 300 veterans per term find themselves on academic probation (GPA below 2.0) or at risk of being placed on probation (GPA between 2.0 and 2.25).

Tulane Success Coaching

Typically, when students hear they have been recommended for an academic support program it is viewed as punitive. Their attitude toward participating is shaped by the sense that they have done something wrong.

For that reason, previous efforts at Tulane University to assist students with academic challenges “proved to be difficult and ineffective,” says Michele Oelking, director of the Academic Success Center. Still, the need for a program to aid students in achieving academic, personal and career goals—particularly students with ADHD—was evident.

Operation Degree Completion

They called every number they had. They sent email and snail mail. They reached out on Facebook and LinkedIn.

In short, University of Central Oklahoma’s Operation Degree Completion staff used every means of communication at their disposal to track down tens of thousands of former students.

They were searching for two groups: those who had left Central just shy of their bachelor’s degrees, whom they would assist in finally graduating; and those with credits that could be used to complete associate’s degree requirements at community colleges they had attended.

Online Writing Lab (OWL)

An internal assessment of writing in 2012 found students at Excelsior College struggling—just like many of their peers across the nation.

Recognizing the importance of writing to professional success, leaders at the college in Albany, New York, created a resource to help students improve their skills.

The Online Writing Lab, built using responsive design in an open source environment, was made available to students 24/7, at no cost.

The College Experience

St. Petersburg College initiated The College Experience in 2012 to increase the percentage of students completing core, or gateway, courses.

A review of the Florida college’s records at that time revealed that only two-thirds of students earned a grade or C or better in those classes.

And among African-American and Latino males, the percentage was even lower, says Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services.

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