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Winter 2015

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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