What Community Colleges Get Right About Student Success

Community colleges are rapidly moving in their efforts to foster Student Success. The term is defined as students getting a certificate, going to a 4-year college, etc. There are many great initiatives being undertaken by these institutions to facilitate success as well. In the article WNCC continues efforts to boost student success, the author recognizes Western Nebraska Community College for its initiatives including:

  • “Learning resource center, math and writing centers and its TRIO Program”
  • “Students taking classes online also (having) access to a tutoring resource”
  • Forming “a Student Success Committee that consists of faculty, staff and members of the administration who serve on five sub-committees. Initiatives include: First Year Initiatives-Intrusive Advising, Early Alert System, Wise Choices, Advisor Training and Predictive Modeling.”

This is a great list of programs for all organizations to consider. But I want to focus on two of these points that too many educational organizations miss – an “Early Alert System” and “Predictive Modeling.” While I’m not familiar with WNCC’s programs specifically, what these terms typically mean is identifying students at-risk of not being successful. This risk can be linked to what courses they take (and in what sequence), their educational history, psychosocial factors, socioeconomic factors, academic performance, and other key factors.

What WNCC and other community colleges need to include in these predictive systems is ongoing 1-on-1 research and relationship-building communications with students. It’s one thing to look at historical factors and the risk they project forward and apply those to current students. But it’s even more accurate and beneficial to simply ask current students questions to gauge their comfort, commitment, feeling of success, and expectation for moving forward.

The best system for anticipating student success is one that puts a priority on having a strong Voice of the Student program. Ensure that all the efforts for the student are done with the voice of the student being heard.

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