In my last blog I noted that student success initiatives are institution-wide processes, the importance of having clearly defined metrics and that organizational change is required.
Another key component is that student success initiatives are on-going and evolving as the institution learns what works and what does not work as expected.
But first, student success needs to be defined and agreed upon – only then can it be determined what changes are necessary to obtain the defined goal. And it is difficult to find good examples of institutions taking this approach – but there is a recent example that may be instructive.
Regardless of your opinion of the Arizona State University and Starbucks partnership (an in-depth report can be seen here), the approach taken is instructive. Whatever other goals existed for Starbucks, there was a realization that many students taking advantage of the program needed support, outreach and follow-up throughout the entire process. This includes navigating the financial aid process, assistance throughout registration and support during their studies. The overarching goal is to ensure that students successfully complete their studies.
Technology, of course, plays a significant role in ensuring that advisors and coaches have the information they need when they need it so that they can monitor and intervene at the appropriate time, but technology supports the initiative and is not an end in and of itself.
Compare this approach to a practice employed by many institutions during registration. Although many, if not most institutions allow for self-service registration, they often require that a student cannot register until they meet with an advisor. While on the surface this approach appears to make sense, these meetings are often perfunctory and are of questionable value. It is also a one-size fits all approach and it could be reasonably argued that this approach is a solution in search of a problem.
Would it not make more sense to have an approach that identifies those students who have not yet registered or registered for classes that are not going to support a timely completion of their studies? In other words, target those individuals who may be in trouble and invest in helping those who need help and let everyone else go about their business. A CRM system may be the right solution in this case, or it may not be, but a clear definition of the challenge and the desired outcome will go a long way in informing what technology is needed to support student success initiatives.