Thomas W. Durso
Miami Dade College

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.”

Miami Dade overhauled advising when focus groups revealed the one-size-fits-all system wasn’t meeting students’ academic needs. The new, three-tiered model for first-time college students entering directly from high school reflected how circumstances and needs had changed.

Inside the Program

  • Miami Dade created a new position, the associate provost for student achievement initiatives, to coordinate collegewide efforts encompassed by the 3-tiered model of advising.
  • The student achievement initiative division’s goal is to increase completion rates while maintaining access and quality.

“There’s particular information that’s pertinent at different points in time in their pathway here at the institution,” Rodicio says.

In Tier 1, pre-college advisors help high school students with admissions, financial aid applications, career exploration and selection of academic program. That advising is followed by orientation sessions and a noncognitive assessment.

Tier 2’s first-year advisors work with students until they have earned a quarter of their required credits. Mentors take over in Tier 3, which covers career choices, internship opportunities and workforce readiness skills.

Adding mentoring and coaching to more traditional academic advising should put Miami students in a better position to succeed.

“It’s not just about putting the right sequences of courses on paper,” Rodicio says. “For community college students especially, this is their last chance for a higher education. We’re trying to create some intentional touchpoints along their career that’s going to be critical for this population of students to stay on track.”