Student success is on the radar for higher ed officials

December 22, 2016

Ensuring students are prepared for college and then do well academically, emotionally, physically and financially are key goals of student success initiatives on campuses today.

And these programs aren’t on the minds of only administrators whose day-to-day jobs involve supporting students in these ways. Top institutional officials have student success on their minds—most of them even more so than in 2016, according to a UB survey that includes responses from 66 presidents, chancellors and provosts.

Student success is also—for the third year in a row—one of the top four priorities of college leadership teams. On the list of 12 potential priority areas, student success (at 88 percent) edged controlling costs (74 percent). The next most popular response, fundraising, was chosen by 41 percent of respondents.

The next group of priorities—raising non-tuition revenue, and expanding college access and online learning—all registered at around 25 percent, and all three can be filed under student success efforts.

Campus success comprises a wide range of initiatives. Expanding college access, helping first-generation or low-income students, improving retention, and improving academic success or outcomes are the most popular aims of programs started in the past few years.

The most popular initiatives being started or enhanced in 2017 cover career preparation, graduation rates and guided pathways.

Providing career guidance for alumni and boosting life skills attainment are the least popular success initiative focus areas. Only about half of respondents’ schools have a program or are planning one to help alumni.  About six in 10 schools are targeting life skills.

Regardless of content and aims, it typically takes a village to create and implement student success programs. In a separate UB survey of 74 admissions, enrollment and financial aid administrators, 55 percent say they will be crossing department lines to bolster student success and completion in 2017.

Student success as priority for top campus officials

88% say it’s one of their four highest priorities for 2017, among 12 items listed

  • 84% named it a top priority for 2016 in last year’s survey
  • 83% named it a top priority for 2015 in the prior year’s survey

59% anticipate student success will be even more of a priority in 2017 compared to 2016

  • 73% said the same in last year’s survey about 2016 compared to 2015

41% say student success will have about the same focus in 2017 as in 2016

Where the student success initiatives are

Expanding college access

  • 74% say started in past few years
  • 10% say starting or enhancing in 2017
  • In last year’s survey, expanding college access was a focus area for only 33% of respondents’ schools

Improving retention

  • 73% say started in past few years
  • 27% say starting or enhancing in 2017
  • In last year’s survey, improving retention was the most popular focus area

Supporting first-generation or low-income students

  • 73% say started in past few years
  • 18% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Improving academic success/outcomes

  • 73% say started in past few years
  • 25% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Engaging with campus life

  • 68% say started in past few years
  • 16% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Boosting graduation rates

  • 65% say started in past few years
  • 32% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Providing current students with career preparation and guidance

  • 62% say started in past few years
  • 33% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Adjusting to college life

  • 62% say started in past few years
  • 17% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Increasing financial literacy/responsibility

  • 61% say started in past few years
  • 21% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Attaining life skills

  • 50% say started in past few years
  • 9% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Establishing guided pathways

  • 43% say started in past few years
  • 30% say starting or enhancing in 2017

Offering career services to alumni    

  • 29% say started in past few years
  • 23% say starting or enhancing in 2017

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