Keeping students on course

A well-publicized community college program in New York that is considered a trailblazer in using guided pathways to help students complete a credential also focuses on student advising and support services to get the job done.

The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs has yielded eye-opening results in helping students complete degrees by using the pathways model, but it also has a low student-to-adviser ratio, which is crucial to keep students on track, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

However, the report — which looks at some structural and motivational barriers to improving community college completion rates — noted that hiring more advisers isn’t practical for some community colleges that have had to tighten their budgets. But it added that colleges could better leverage technology to provide some of those student support services.

The Brookings report, citing examples from the book Summer Melt: Supporting Low Income Students through Transition to College, said colleges could use text messaging and other tools to keep on top of high school graduates and other community college students. Summer melt refers to just-graduated high school students who miss crucial information pertaining to student aid deadlines, orientation, student records and other important deadlines and documents sent by the college where they enrolled. This often leads to dropped courses and even enrollment and other disruption before students even attend their first class.

Up to one-third of all students who leave high school with plans to attend college never arrive at any college campus that fall, according to the U.S. Education Department. Summer melt also tends to hit low-income students the hardest, as well as students who are the first in their family to go to college.

Summer Melt highlights a partnership between Georgia State University and AdmitHub, a mobile messaging service provider, to reduce summer melt using Pounce, an artificial intelligence chatbox that sends individually tailored text messages. It helped to reduce the university’s summer melt by 21 percent.

Although the examples in the book focused on using technology to reduce summer melt, the Brookings report said colleges could use technology in a similar way to improve student support services, noting that “e-advising” could help improve case management and provide feedback to students on their progress.

About the Author

Daily Staff
CCDaily is published by the American Association of Community Colleges.