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The Truth About Student Success - Promoting Students' Well-Being

The Student Success Movement

Educators have always wanted students to do well, but only in recent years has the responsibility for student success shifted from being placed solely on the student to being shared equally by academic institutions. Historically, graduation rates in the U.S. have been pitifully low, and at their highest point have still not yet reached 60%. Most institutions are led to raise retention rates due to financial needs, but in an era of increasing diversification in higher education the moral responsibility to close the gaps in success that minorities face adds to the need for institutions to take action.

This pressing need to increase retention rates often has the adverse side effect of a fixation on solutions and quick fixes, instead of a long term planning and re-examining core processes. Programs or tools are helpful, but often fall short of their intended need. Even if these programs and tools fully realize their goal, grants run out and program managers move on. Deep systematic change, brought about by thoughtful and intensive review of all processes, is what is necessary for lasting and impactful improvements to student success.

An organization that is focused on the students, as opposed to ranking or research, is an organization that will put the students and their successes first.

This Learn Twice article is one part of a four part summary of the paper "The Truth About Student Success: Myths, Realities, and 30 Practices That Are Working" from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The full paper requires purchase to view. The link to purchase the paper can be found in the right sidebar. Read our other three summaries of this paper for free here:

The Truth About Student Success - Applying Student Data
The Truth About Student Success - Improving the Educational Experience
The Truth About Student Success - Integrating Academic Support

Promoting Student Well-being

Outside of academic settings, student's face hardships and challenges just like anybody else. Food or housing insecurity, mental or physical health issues, family situation, and many other personal issues can factor into a students decison to drop out. Institutions that are concious of these challenges and take steps to remedy them will have happier, healthier, and more successful students. 

  • Help First Generation Students Thrive -  First generation students often come from households with lower incomes, may not have as many social connections, and may have a harder time feeling that they "belong". Programs that are concious of these situations and other needs can help first generation students to be successful.
  • Give Students a Financial Safety Net - Administrators and Dillard University in New Orleans realized that students were not dropping out because they struggling academically or were unhappy, they were instead struggling financially. 95% of their students were on some form of financial aid and many had modest outstanding account balances that would prevent them from registering for future semesters. Upon realizing this, the university started a program called SAFE which would provide grants to students at the end of a semester to cover outstanding balances if a financial aid officer verified that they had paid all they could and exhausted all other financial aid. This allowed students who otherwise would have to drop out to contine their education. 
  • Support Students Recovering From Addiction - The death of a student on campus due to drug overdose prompted Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to take a deeper look at how they were supoorting students who struggle with drug addiction. They now show a video to every incoming student of the deceased student's mother talking about his dependence, which prompts openness and discussion. They have also dedicated a space for those in recovery or those who want to be where a faculty member in always present, which has become a place of acceptance and recovery. 


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