There’s no question that all colleges and universities are intent on helping their students succeed. As Kim Reid, Principle Analyst for EDUVENTURES, points out. “There is no shortage of opportunities to improve student success. But pursuing a fragmented, uneven, or haphazard effort…can subdue institutional will very quickly.” In “Seven Student Success Strategies That Work ,“ Reid proposes an approach, “To capitalize on institutional will and momentum” before competing initiatives and a lack of resources overwhelm even the best intentioned efforts.
The idea is to generate positive feedback as part of an ongoing collaborative process that fuels improvements and reinforces a school’s commitment to student success. To do this successfully requires avoiding overreach. Instead administrators should, “choose a coherent student success strategy that utilizes the main levers that your institution can push to effect change” By focusing on basic programs or intervention strategies, Reid maintains that schools can improve students success rates and maintain the much needed momentum that keeps all involved engaged and on the same page.
To illustrate the effect of this approach the author looks to the results of an Eduventures 2016 Student Success Ratings survey that examined data from more than 1,100 US institutions. The survey, “compared a predicted retention rate based on academics, affordability, and social factors with their actual retention rates.” Seven strategies emerged suggesting a Cycle of Student Success. They are listed here in order of importance:
- Provide needed financial support to students
- Focus on academic success
- Build community connection
- Actively manage individual student pathways
- Identify risk and do something about it
- Clear the path of roadblock
- Help your most troubled student cohorts
The simplicity and directness of this approach seems so obvious that it may come as a surprise to the many frustrated administrators who have found themselves overwhelmed by multiple initiatives. While Reid stresses that every institution needs to find the “right mix” of strategies, the bottom line remains the same: “Institutions can make great strides simply by reaching out to the segments of their population who are struggling the most.”
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