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Boosting graduation rates

LIFE (Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment)

An influx of Hispanic residents over the last decade has created an opportunity for NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

Recognizing that a significant percentage of Hispanic students from outside the area had little experience with higher education—including what it is like, how to apply or even that it was an option for them—the college in 2012 developed a program to introduce high school students to the basics.

Student Development Outcomes for Student Employees

More than two-thirds of college students work during their academic career, says Denny Olsen, senior associate director of Student Unions and Activities at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

More than 5,000 students work on the Minneapolis campus, including 250 in Olsen’s department.

When officials created a list of seven student development outcomes more than 10 years ago, Olsen’s department spotted an opportunity. Students would be offered additional experiences and teachings they would aspire to master during on-campus work assignments.

UMass Lowell 2020

“When you first come from high school to a large university, it’s overwhelming. You can feel disconnected,” says John Ting, vice provost for enrollment at UMass Lowell.

That disconnected feeling seemed to partially explain the university’s discovery in 2007 that its retention and graduation rates for first-year undergraduate students were below national averages.

49er Finish

Many university retention programs focus on first- and second-year undergrads. But UNC Charlotte has generated $400,000 in additional annual revenue by going off campus to bring back “stopouts” who left in their senior year without getting a degree.

The 49er Finish Program targets those with more than 90 credit hours, at least a 2.0 GPA, and no judicial or financial holds on their account.

Chart the Course

Earning 30 college credits in the first year is the best indicator of whether a student will earn a degree, administrators at Georgian Court University in New Jersey had learned.

So they were concerned to discover that just over one-third of first-time freshmen in the fall of 2013 had earned 30 credits by the start of their second year.

“We have a good number of freshmen taking remedial courses within their 15-hour course load, which don’t count toward their 15 credits,” says Kathleen Boody, dean of student success.

Unconquered Scholars Program

There’s underserved, and then there’s underserved.

Foster kids. The homeless. Wards of the state. Young people as deserving of a college education as anyone, but victims of circumstances not of their making.

Florida State University in Tallahassee gives this often forgotten population a chance. In addition to offering a pathway to college, the Unconquered Scholars Program provides students with guidance, mentoring, advocacy and a voice. Along with considerable academic support, the program prepares students to live independently—perhaps for the first time in their life.

Dual Degree Program

Elaine Maimon doesn’t mince words when she hears her fellow four-year university presidents complain about the quality of community college students who transfer to their school.

“Universities have not done anything to inspire students to have a coherent experience at the community colleges,” says Maimon, who heads up Governors State University in Illinois. “We at the universities have a responsibility to partner with the community colleges to make sure the students have the best possible chance of having a coherent, quality experience throughout their four years.”

Academic Recovery Program

The idea was this: Require students who have lost “good standing” status—due to academic hiccups or financial troubles—to pay for a two-credit course needed to regain that standing.

But it did not elicit the negative reactions anticipated by officials at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“I expected to have a line at my door of students upset with me for making them take this course and wanting out,” says Tracy Noldner, vice president of student affairs. “I also thought I was going to have parents calling me upset.”

3-Tiered Model of Advising

You can imagine the reaction when Miami Dade College, with its enrollment of 165,000, expanded its academic advising load to incoming students still in high school. That meant staff would need to advise an additional 14,000 students.

“I still remember one of the very first conversations with the student affairs deans,” says Lenore Rodicio, provost for academic and student affairs. “I thought we were going to need to do some emergency treatment on some of them.”

Insight App

For most high schoolers, it’s mom or dad nagging them to get to school on time, keep track of assignments and meet assignment deadlines.

For University of San Diego students, it’s their phone that keeps them focused.

Administrators saw an opportunity in the overwhelming prevalence of mobile devices on campus to help students become independent.

“We wanted to create something to help empower students to understand and help them with their daily lives,” says Avi Badwal, senior director of enterprise technologies.

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