EAB has identified 15 best practices to help institutions take a hard look at their campus culture and systems to erase equity gaps.
Leadership and Campus Climate
Train leaders in effective change management
Many campus leaders have never received formal training on the change management skills necessary to lead the substantial changes required to close equity gaps. Effective change management is integral to implement the policies and practices that help close equity gaps.
Provide equity-focused professional development
Most campuses have never offered racial equity training for their staff. Through dedicated training, participants will develop racial literacy and racial equity problem-solving skills to ensure their continued ability to address and confront practices, cultural norms, and policies that undermine racial equity.
Conduct campus climate assessments
Campus climate assessments are powerful tools for leaders to understand student, faculty, and staff perceptions and experiences, identify strengths and areas for improvement, and measure year over year progress on critical initiatives. Data gathered through campus climate assessments can help to inform other equity initiatives.
Access and Enrollment
Expand community-based partnerships
Community-based organizations (CBOs) across the country have successfully supported the higher education aspirations of first-generation, lower-income, and underrepresented students. Institutions will strengthen their collaborations with local and regional CBOs to expand their diversity recruitment and enrollment efforts. These efforts will include developing or expanding partnerships with local high schools to provide information to students on identifying best-fit universities, securing financial assistance, and connecting with counselors.
Offer second chances for adult learners
Thirty-five million adults over the age of 25 have completed some college credits without having earned a degree. Institutions have an opportunity to develop marketing and financial support plans to invite adult students back to campus. By removing barriers to re-enrollment and creating flexible learning environments, we help adult students complete their degrees.
Academic Policy and Practices
Audit registration holds and revise policies
Complex registration processes create barriers and confuse students, often discouraging them from re-enrolling. By conducting an audit of all registration holds, and eliminating or revising those that are unnecessary, obsolete, or burdensome, we will enable students to continue to progress toward a degree.
Offer retention grants for in-need students
Many institutions lose students every year due to students' unexpected financial circumstances, often for shortfalls of no more than a few hundred dollars. As a result, it is in a school's best interest to offer retention grants to help students stay in school and on the path to graduation. It is important to develop plans and processes to award financial assistance to address small account balances for qualified students.
Assess and align math requirements
Traditional math pathways contribute to attrition and student equity concerns. All programs of study should require mathematics skills most appropriate for success in the associated degree pathways. Mathematics aligned to programs will also be embedded in transferable degree maps shared with all participating two- and four-year institutions.
Offer college-level gateway courses
For many underserved students, developmental education can be a barrier that slows down student progress and hinders persistence. Existing developmental education courses should be redesigned so that students deemed underprepared for college-level writing and/or math can enroll in college-level, gateway English and mathematics courses with mandatory corequisite academic support.
Create undergraduate academic degree maps
Students who pass all their classes can still end up paying preventable "hidden costs" if they take more courses than expected. Academic maps establish clear pathways to timely completion of courses that count, reducing the time (and money) to graduate. Schools should develop maps for all undergraduate academic degrees with recommended course sequences for on-time completion.
Leverage meta-majors to ease student pathways
Meta-majors group a much larger number of individual programs of study under a broader academic umbrella and offer students a more refined range of clear pathways to graduation and careers. Institutions should develop and implement credit-bearing first-year experience courses designed to provide students broad overviews of specific majors within the meta-major or programs of study.
Create pathways for transfer students
Students who transfer are often unable to articulate all of their previously earned credits at their new institution. Transfer is an overlooked equity issue; students of color are more likely to begin their journey at a two-year institution. Transferring credits earned at these institutions is harder than it needs to be. Streamlining transfer pathways will make it easier for students and the credits they have earned, to transfer successfully between two-year and four-year institutions.
Student Support and Belongingness
Leverage technology for proactive advising
Student success technology platforms enable more proactive academic advising, allowing advisors to focus their attention on students most in need of their support. Review your existing advising model and seek to make infrastructure improvements needed to ensure the delivery of best practice proactive advising.
Make student care a coordinated effort
Support offices such as financial aid, career advising, academic support, and student health and counseling centers positively impact student success but are often underutilized. Institutions should create a Coordinated Care Network across offices to easily coordinate and collaborate on appropriate next steps for student support.
Foster student belongingness
A student's sense of belonging on campus is crucial not only for student success and persistence but for student equity. Leaders who invest in initiatives and policy changes that address self-confidence, academic preparation, and a sense of belonging will be the first to move the dial on equitable outcomes. Campus leaders should evaluate best practices and develop support and response plans to ensure that all students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, feel supported and valued by their community.
Are you ready to close equity gaps?
Download the Moon Shot for Equity Memorandum of Understanding for details on the roles and responsibilities of participating institutions and regions