By: 
Thomas W. Durso
Honoree: 
Middle Tennessee State University

Federal regulations prevent Middle Tennessee State University from notifying parents when their kids are having academic trouble.

The regulations say nothing about writing to the students themselves, which the university does in hopes of catching a parent’s eye and sparking a conversation.

“It’s a strategic move to send the letter,” says Vincent Windrow, assistant vice provost for student success. “Hopefully it creates a moment where the parents and the student can have dialogue about the student’s progress.”

That small bit of attempted subterfuge aims to entice freshmen who post a sub-2.0 GPA in the fall to participate in REBOUND, a program that takes place between fall and spring semesters.

At the two-day REBOUND event, students attend workshops covering financial aid, study skills, time management, tutoring and personal accountability. They also review their spring schedules with their academic advisors and, in many cases, choose different classes.

“We believe these students want to succeed,” Windrow says. “They had a bad semester, but a bad semester doesn’t mean they’re going to have a bad future or that they’re bad students.”

A variety of campus units partner with the Office of Student Success in presenting REBOUND, including financial aid, residential life, food services, the Women’s Center, and parking and transportation. The football team’s defensive coordinator participates. Even the university’s president and provost facilitate sessions on student success. Seeing such senior leaders helps freshmen realize how important the program is, Windrow says.

“Their eyes are like saucers, and some of their mouths gape open,” he says.

Success data point

  • 18%: Eligible students who participated in the first REBOUND event, with nearly 46% of them returning to classes the following fall (compared to 29% of eligible students who did not return)