Help Students Stay On Their Path
Beyond Financial Aid: How Colleges Can Strengthen the Financial Stability of Low-Income Students and Improve Student Outcomes (posted 4/5/2018)
Using data, academic research, and real-life examples, Beyond Financial Aid addresses questions including: How can your institution assess its readiness and capacity to support low-income students? What strategies can your institution consider adopting to better support low-income students? What initial steps can your institution take to begin strengthening its support for low-income students? (Lumina Foundation)
The BFA Self-Assessment Guide (posted 4/5/2018)
This self-assessment helps colleges address a variety of financial concerns facing low-income students. (National Center for Inquiry and Improvement)
Making Ends Meet: The Role of Community Colleges in Student Financial Health (posted 4/5/2018)
This report sheds light on the financial challenges students face. It encourages institutional change that supports students’ financial health so all students can reach their academic goals. (Center for Community College Student Engagement)
Strategies for Sustaining and Scaling an Integrated Services Model (posted 4/5/2018)
Achieving the Dream’s Working Students Success Network (WSSN) was developed to help low-income students reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder. WSSN’s integrated services model is an innovative framework that integrates and bundles three distinct but related services: education and employment advancement, income and work supports, and financial services and asset building. (Achieving the Dream)
PRACTITIONER, PRESIDENT, AND PARTNER PERSPECTIVES
Andy Dorsey, President, Front Range Community College, Pathways College; Stephanie Sutton, Associate Provost, Enrollment Management & Student Success, Lorain County Community College, Pathways Coach; Sam Hirsch, Vice President, Academic & Student Success, Community College of Philadelphia, Pathways College; Tonjua Williams, President, St. Petersburg College, Pathways Coach (posted 4/5/2018)
(1) We’ve added 15 new advising positions and reorganized about five other staff positions to become advisors. And that was by really carefully saying, “What’s our priority?” Our priority is increasing student success. We think probably investing in advising is the single most important thing we could do.
(2) As we’re listening to the student voice, it really helped drive our advising redesign, that they wanted them to advise them. They want someone, they want one person that they can go to from entry to completion. They complained about seeing eight different people and sometimes getting conflicting information.
(3) Probably one of the most significant steps at our institution, and we restructured advising. What we did is we went to a different model of full-time professional advisors. They’re developing the plans. And just as importantly, they’re the ones that are monitoring progress of those students.
(4) The trajectory is going up on success rates for our students. But also on retention, coming back the subsequent term, we have found that by having the advisors intricately involved, especially for the onboarding and the first four weeks of class, it has helped students stay in class, not withdraw.
Even when you change your major, like I went from nursing to healthcare management, and there’s certain classes that I wanted to take in my own order, it would like come up with red flags. So then I would have to go and schedule an appointment with the advisor, and then they would have to go and take those red flags, and then they’d have to input why you’re changing this or why, if it’s family circumstances or whatever the case is, and then they’d put those information in so that even if that advisor’s not available, the next advisor would be able to see those notes and just stick with those changes.
The instructors are pretty well knowledgeable. They pay attention to everybody. If they see you’re having problems with the class, they’ll flag it, and they’ll refer you to the counseling center. We have a counseling center. We have several people that can counsel you, or advise you. Help you out, and if you have any problems at home, at school, work, play, you know. Different stuff. They have been very, very helpful as far as in my case. I’ve used the counselors. Sit and talk about different things and how your life is going. How your classes are going. If you had problems, they’ll work ’em — help you work through ’em to get you back on track for your classes. The instructors are told behind closed doors that everything is getting better. You can go back and continue on with your schoolwork. It’s helpful.
If we’re not making progress, or we’re failing or not showing up, we get — we have something called Starfish. We get notifications in there. We get a flag. You also get Kudos. If you’re doing well, they tell you good job.
My College 101 instructor, she noticed I was doing so well in the course. Getting stuff turned in on time. She said, “Yeah, good job!” Then for my continuous improvement course, I didn’t turn in an assignment. I turned it in late. I said I’d have it in to him by the deadline the next day. He said, “Well, I’ll take the flag off. You’re all good.” Then for my college chem class, my instructor, she noticed I didn’t do so well. She gave me a reference to academic coaching. She said that you could use some help with chemistry. I’ve been going to chemistry. Ever since then, it’s just I know it. I’m getting it. I’m getting everything down that I need to know. I feel like I should do well in chemistry from here on out because she — all because she sent me that one message. In that email on Starfish. She just knew that I could use some help, and I’ve been doing that.
If we were to have a problem and we never spoke up about it, what our teacher would do is they would send over an email to our navigator, and then our navigator would reach out to us to see what we could do. Typically, what the navigator would do was just see if you’re okay, and then, if you’re okay, then they would suggest you go over to the Center for Student Success. It’s like a tutoring center, really. You go in for really any class and there’s someone there that can help you.
There are a lot of safety nets. If you start falling, there’s — I mean, there’s your classmates, who you get to know, just cuz you’re there every day with them. And like if you start to struggle, they usually say, “Hey, what’s going on?” Your teachers. The counseling. Your advisors. Everyone kind of has a hand. If you’ve fallen down, everyone helps pick you back up. There are so many safety nets and contingency safety nets. The support system is really great here.
The red flags means that once—if you miss too many class, your instructor can flag you to let your advisor know that this student is missing this many class, so maybe we should be reaching out to that student and see if he or she is in problem, need anything that we can help with. Another red flag could also mean that your grade is also dropping, and we’re wondering why. All of a sudden your grade’s dropping. We want to see, is there any way we can help? That’s usually what the red flag means. But then there’s also the good flag, where it goes—they call it the kudos, where if you are doing good in the class and you are meeting—you’re going to class. Attendance is good. Grades are good. Then your teacher or instructor send out the kudos, where your advisor will see that you are doing academically good in your classes and showing that at this point you’re not having any struggles. But they definitely will send an e-mail to you, ʺDefinitely keep with the good work. Do let us know if we can help you in any way.ʺ That’s what those two main flags are for.
I have had my ups and downs with where I wanted to go with my degree. And when I finally…they really put up with me, my advisors, because maybe every other semester, I’d be like, “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore.” They’d be like, “Okay. We need to change it.” At the time, I was partially paying out of pocket, so it wasn’t like I had like financial assistance where they have more of a guideline of, you need to stick to this. If you don’t finish this at a certain time, it starts putting some damage on how you sit with your program. So I was able to go in and say, “I just need to switch this over.” My advisor did have to personally go into the computer and switch over my courses and everything. When I finally did land on my business course, they had it all lined up for me, and I’ve just been able to stick to it ever since, and I really love it.
(1) I always get red flags. The red flags are very, very obnoxious, but it’s good because sometimes, they block your entering into certain aspects until you go talk to your advisor. It’s very, very annoying, but it’s also very handy because it forces you to go and talk to them and be like, “Hey, why am I getting this red flag?” They explain to you, “Hey, you’re a little off track.” Or, “You need to complete these things before you go on to these things.” For me, it’s not a very intuitive process sometimes, the guided pathway, so I have to ask, “Hey, I don’t understand what’s going on here. Please help me out.” They’re just like, “Oh, it’s just this.” I’m like, “Oh, thank God” cuz they speak human. It’s a lot better than me just going on my computer, going like, “How do I figure this out?”
(2) Mine is the same. I get red flagged, and I get a call from my advisor. “You’re off track. Do you know you’re off track?” I’m like, “Yeah. I must have clicked the wrong class.” They’re like, “Okay. Come see me.” Or, “We’ll fix this on the phone.” The advisor really is the one who checks it and checks on me.
(1) On the college’s website, if you log in, they have something called an interactive degree audit. You can look there for each segment of your general ed requirements and your program requirements and see what’s on track, what you still need courses in, how far along you are to the completion of your degree. It’s really cool to just be able to see everything listed there cuz they’ve got all the different course choices for each category that you can take and which ones you need one class in, which ones you need two. It’s a really intuitive way to see where you are.
(2) When I’m ready to sign up for my classes, I look at my guided pathway and checking it off, making sure, okay, I’m cool. This is where I’m at. Then also, when you sign on the college’s website and you have your information, there’s a pie that gets filled up. I have 20 percent left on that pie to fill up, so I’m pretty stoked about that. [Laughter]