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Career preparation and guidance

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.

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.

Internship Program

Internships have been a hallmark of the Endicott College experience ever since 1939, when the school, located 20 miles north of Boston, was founded by leaders who believed in a philosophy of “learning by doing.”

Today, students are required to complete three internships: two 120-hour experiences during the January or summer semester of their freshman and sophomore years plus a full-semester internship during the fall of their senior year.

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.

Exploration Plan

When a 2009 data review revealed that undecided, or “exploratory,” students were less likely to graduate from Kent State University than those entering with a declared major, leaders looked into why—and what they could do to improve retention.

One step was requiring all students to enroll in a degree-granting program by the time they had received 45 credit hours.

To that end, leaders at the Ohio university formed a committee to further develop and refine the process exploratory students followed to find a major.

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.”

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.”

Navigation Advising

Advising at State Fair Community College in Missouri begins not just when students enroll, but before they even apply.

State Fair sends staffers from its Navigation Advising program to high schools to discuss how to be a college student. These visits aren’t about recruitment, but a chance to explain the college application process, financial aid and advising, among other topics.

WellsLink Leadership Program

Syracuse University in New York has always had a number of state- and federally funded support programs that help students of color bridge the gap between high school and college, says Huey Hsiao, associate director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

The Higher Education Opportunity Program and Student Support Services, for example, offer academic support to underprepared students, who demonstrate potential to succeed in college.

Passport to Success

Despite a number of initiatives to improve retention rates at Culver-Stockton College, the Missouri school found itself underperforming in comparison to other institutions. Administrators, recognizing the need to try something new, focused specifically on freshman-to-sophomore retention.

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