Finding your Pivotal Moments

Finding your Pivotal Moments

The crossroads between success and failure

Every person who works in student success understands that there are inflection points that can make the difference between a student walking across the graduation stage or ending their college career too early. We call these crossroads Pivotal Moments. To better understand when students might encounter these key junctures, we turned to our Student Success Collaborative partners and colleagues and asked them to reflect on their own Pivotal Moments, across their educational and career experiences.

Watch the video below to learn what they shared.

Pivotal moments are complex decisions students must make at key points of transition.

For the past several years, EAB researchers and product designers have been hard at work identifying Pivotal Moments and understanding how to design interventions to help more students succeed.

But helping students to navigate these crossroads successfully can be difficult—in part because there is no exhaustive list of Pivotal Moments. Through our research, we found that Pivotal Moments are neither simple nor universal. They are not binary decisions, actions, or other procedural markers (such as “resolve registration hold” or “complete financial aid application”). Rather, they contain the moments when someone’s words help set you on your path, and others feel like you don’t belong in college.

Learn how schools can raise student awareness around Pivotal Moments, illuminate the power of cultivating relationships on campus, and reassure students of their own ability when they stumble.


  • Luzelma Canales, Senior Associate Vice President for Student Success, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
  • Farrah Jackson Ward, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Elizabeth City State University
  • Matthew Mustard, Strategic Leader, EAB
  • Wendell Williams, Special Assistant to the President, Texas Southern University
  • Matthew Dreitlein, Strategic Leader, EAB
  • Monica Leach, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Academic Affairs, North Carolina Central University

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