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Research Report

Hardwiring Student Success

Building disciplines for retention and timely graduation

October 16, 2018

Key Insights

This study profiles innovators’ efforts to elevate student success initiatives from the current patchwork of support services to an actively managed enterprise process that is designed to systematically identify and rapidly intervene with students exhibiting behaviors predictive of attrition or graduation delays.

Despite massive institutional investment in advising and support services, national student retention and graduation rates have remained lackluster for decades. The combination of increased pressure from state governments and heightened financial concerns generated by the economic climate have suddenly brought this issue to the forefront of higher education agenda, leaving many schools wondering what more they can do to improve.

Retention exemplars share the insight that significant improvement is possible without adding more support resources. For many, the problem isn’t under-resourced services but over-reliance on students and faculty initiative to utilize them. At the majority of institutions, students receiving help are those self-aware and tenacious enough to ask for it, rather than those who need it most.

Leaders in academic affairs, enrollment management, student affairs, and advising who are responsible for or involved in improving student retention and graduation rates on their campuses will find the practices and tools in this publication useful in their work.

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