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Engagement with campus life

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.

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.

Comfort Dog Program

One of the most popular public figures on the Concordia University Wisconsin campus isn’t a student or long-time faculty member, but rather a celebrity of the canine variety. 

Zoey, a golden retriever, stars in Concordia’s two-year-old Comfort Dog Program, which offers stress reduction, emotional relief and improved well-being to students, faculty and staff. “Zoey provides what amounts to a canine version of a deep breath,” says Dave Enters, director of counseling services and head of the program.

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.

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.

Peer Jacks Mentoring Program

Located about two hours north of Phoenix, Northern Arizona University is far enough away to allow local students a sense of independence.

But it’s still close enough for those from the Phoenix-area to go home on weekends and holidays, says Evin Deschamps, interim director of student success initiatives.

Local students are also more likely than the school’s out-of-state students—who now account for 40 percent of enrollment—to arrive with friends and support networks established in high school.

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.

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.”

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