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Student Success Case Study Compendium 2020

More than 550 colleges and universities currently use Navigate, EAB’s student success management system, to support, engage, retain, and graduate their students. Many of these colleges and universities are seeing meaningful shifts in key metrics, from staff efficiency to persistence to reducing equity gaps. In fact, we have 125 documented impact stories—and counting.

Download the 2020 Student Success Case Study Compendium to read 20 diverse case studies. Learn about a range of best practices for improving student outcomes and helping students see a return on education. Whether their campus is small or large, public or private, each of the 21 highlighted schools leverages Navigate in a way that suits their unique culture and mission.

Explore the case studies under each topic to learn more about the schools that achieved success by partnering with EAB. You can either download the full compendium or access each case study individually.

Coordinating Student Interventions

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Virginia Commonwealth University

Challenge: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has steadily improved its first-year retention rate, but needed a new way to identify and address the less obvious needs of populations who are unlikely to complete, especially those beyond the first year.

Solution: In fall 2014, VCU advisors used Navigate predictive analytics to run targeted advising campaigns that proactively intervened with 12 student subpopulations.

Impact: Persistence-focused campaigns resulted in the retention of an additional 65 students in the spring of 2015 and $346,000 in spring tuition and fees revenue. Momentum from campaigns and other initiatives has positively impacted four- and six-year graduation rates.

University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Challenge: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is a large, complex, urban institution featuring a decentralized advising structure made up of 11 different school/college advising offices with additional support units. After joining EAB, it was clear there needed to be a structure and engagement framework to enable coordinated university-wide actions involving targeted campaigns and advising best practices.

Solution: UWM established an advising “SWAT team” as a central forum for sharing ideas, and developed ongoing stop-out campaigns to register students who might otherwise have slipped through the cracks. The EAB Consultant provides ongoing support, information, and feedback.

Impact: A total of 123 students returned to campus following EAB campaigns targeting unenrolled students, amounting to over $604,000 in additional revenue.

University of South Alabama

Challenge: Since 2005, University of South Alabama (USA) had experienced declining retention in the midst of enrollment growth. With six- and four-year graduation rates plateauing at 36% and 17%, respectively, USA sought to help students graduate on time and improve overall student performance.

Solution: USA developed a four-pronged strategy to help more students graduate in a timely manner with the right major. They used Navigate data to identify areas of focus. USA then launched two campaigns in 2016, one to encourage high credit-hours students to graduate and the second to enroll students in need of additional support in intensive academic coaching.

Impact: Through its partnership with EAB, USA was able to increase retention by 12% across four years and graduate an additional 126 students in 2016.

University at Albany

Challenge: In recent years, University at Albany has experienced enrollment growth, a new president, and a new strategic plan emphasizing student success. More than half of Albany students receive financial aid through the New York State Grant Programs and 45% are Pell recipients. Albany had achieved some success enacting a variety of practices to improve retention, but the impact was not what they hoped due to poor coordination among student-facing offices across campus. They needed a driving force to create a more collaborative culture.

Solution: Albany partnered with EAB in 2015 and implemented Navigate in student-facing offices across campus. Advisors use Navigate to work with Grant students to keep them in compliance, and advisors also reach out to unenrolled students to get them back on campus.

Impact: Navigate allows Albany’s various offices to collaboratively support students and keep them on track to graduation. Through multiple campaigns, Albany has re-enrolled thousands of additional students resulting in over $5M in tuition revenue.

National Louis University

Challenge: Historically, National Louis University’s (NLU) undergraduate student body was primarily part-time, online, and/or evening transfer students. In 2015, they launched a new full-time daytime program serving largely first-generation, low-income students. In 2018, NLU merged these populations, building the Undergraduate College with the mission of improving equity in degree attainment and employment. However, siloed and reactive departments using multiple technology systems prevented students from getting proactive support and progressing toward a degree.

Solution: NLU’s Undergraduate College hired a team of success coaches (high-touch academic advisors) to collaborate with faculty to support students. They then implemented Navigate to strengthen coordination between faculty, coaches, and additional support staff, facilitating holistic support and improving student outcomes.

Impact: NLU students now have 13% higher first- to second-year retention compared to Chicago students with a similar academic profile. 90% of faculty responded to progress reports in Navigate, and 98% of students surveyed reported that faculty and success coach outreach was helpful.

Concordia College

Challenge: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Concordia College was forced to cease in-person operations. Their emergency response team worried that many students wouldn’t have the necessary resources or support to access their online courses and finish the semester.

Solution: Concordia College has been part of EAB’s Student Success Collaborative partner for six years, going live with Navigate in 2015. While closing campus, Concordia emailed all students a departure form to assess immediate needs and used Navigate to reach unresponsive students. Additionally, faculty submitted Navigate Progress Reports to flag students struggling with remote learning. Leveraging the Coordinated Care Network they built with Navigate in the months prior, Concordia redeployed student support staff to quickly act on students’ challenges and concerns.

Impact: Using Navigate to reach students, Concordia saw a 16% increase in departure form submissions, and 93% of faculty participated in a campaign to identify students struggling in online courses. Additionally, Concordia redeployed more than a dozen staff to follow up on student concerns and better meet time-sensitive student needs.

Elevating Faculty Engagement

Samford University

Challenge: A communication gap existed between faculty advisors and student support staff due to inconsistent tools and processes for monitoring and supporting student progress. Faculty were aware of student issues but lacked the time to fully address them, while student support staff had the capacity to intervene but didn’t know which students needed help.

Solution: Faculty leadership established new policies requiring midterm grade submissions, while student support staff began using EAB’s holistic student data to strategically intervene with students in need of support.

Impact: First-year retention increased 2% within one year of EAB Navigate implementation with no additional investment in tutoring, supplemental instruction, or other student success measures.

Engaging Students with Student-Facing Technology

Waverton State University

Challenge: Despite a strong first-year retention rate, many students were failing to graduate in four years. In 2014, Waverton’s* president set a goal to increase the four-year graduation rate by 12 percentage points by 2019. But with student caseloads approaching 800 in some advising units, advisors were stretched too thin to give all students the attention they needed to succeed.

Solution: Waverton leveraged EAB’s student success platform, Navigate, to improve cross-campus collaboration, implement new data-driven strategies, and improve their organizational structures. They leveraged EAB’s student-facing app, Navigate Student, to provide their undergraduates with a comprehensive, personalized advising experience.

Impact: Waverton successfully launched Navigate Student to more than 12,000 users, including 77% of first-year and transfer students. With this and other strategies implemented since 2014, Waverton’s four-year graduation rate increased 15 percentage points.


Robert Morris University

Challenge: Prior to collaborating with EAB, Robert Morris University’s (RMU) students and advisors lacked the tools to coordinate and communicate a plan to stay on track. Advisors needed insight into students’ involvement and engagement on campus, and students needed a clear checklist to follow.

Solution: RMU partnered with EAB in April 2017 with the goal of achieving 50% first-year adoption on EAB’s student-facing mobile app. First, they created a first-year seminar syllabus that requires students to complete in-app assignments, driving both downloads and ongoing utilization. Second, they used in-app Quick Polls to help keep students on track, and provide advisors and administrators with powerful insights about student interests, needs, and concerns.

Impact: RMU dramatically exceeded their adoption goal, with 94% of first-year students downloading the app. This contributed to a 2% increase in first-year retention compared to 2016.

Elizabeth City State University

Challenge: When creating academic plans for multiple semesters, students at ECSU often didn’t have full knowledge of degree requirements, and advisors lacked visibility into course availability. There was no standard process for collaboration between students and advisors and no way to encourage long-term planning.

Solution: ECSU launched EAB’s Navigate platform in 2016 and piloted the Academic Planning (AP) tool with all freshman advisors in 2019. AP provided a shared workspace where students could build plans based on their major, and advisors could add comments and flag errors. ECSU also used Quick Polls in Navigate’s student app to identify students in need of extra support. During the transition to virtual learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, ECSU relied heavily on Navigate to understand and act on urgent student needs.

Impact: After launching AP in Navigate, ECSU saw a 35% increase in preregistration over the previous year. The extensive use of Navigate among staff and students since 2016 has contributed to a 4% increase in the four-year graduation rate, and 5% and 12% growth in freshman and sophomore retention, respectively.

Leveraging Data-Driven Insights

California State University Fullerton

Challenge: At California State University Fullerton (CSUF), decentralized advising and support offices lacked standard processes to train staff or direct students to needed resources. Faculty were not sufficiently engaged in collaborating with success staff to fully support students. Additionally, achievement gaps between traditional and underrepresented student populations were concerningly wide.

Solution: CSUF built new Student Success Centers across campus, where staff use Navigate to monitor and connect with students, as well as engage and supplement faculty in supporting students outside the classroom. They also assessed procedural inequalities that disproportionately affect students of color and hired new specialists that use Navigate to improve key outcomes.

Impact: By working to understand and remove barriers to completion, CSUF lowered the achievement gap between underrepresented minority (URM)1 and non-URM students by 7 percentage points. CSUF also used Navigate campaigns to see a $29M+ return on investment in three years.

Georgia State University

Challenge: Ten years ago, Georgia State University’s (GSU) six-year graduation rate hovered around 32% and was especially low for their growing population of Pell students. When Georgia joined Complete College America in 2011, GSU was required to implement a plan to improve student outcomes, with state appropriations tied to these improvements.

Solution: GSU saw an opportunity to target resources through structured, data-driven interventions such as course redesign, supplemental instruction, freshmen learning communities, and fee-drop grants. In 2012, GSU joined the Student Success Collaborative and extended this data-driven approach to academic advising.

Impact: GSU’s advisors use Navigate daily, helping students make smarter decisions, reduce time to degree, and increase their likelihood of success—contributing to a 3% increase in six-year graduation rate since 2012.

Auburn University

Challenge: Auburn’s College of Engineering has a rigorous curriculum. Some pre-engineering students struggle to maintain the minimum required GPA and are referred outside of Engineering to select another major. Auburn wanted to reduce the number of students referred outside of Engineering by identifying students who are at risk of not qualifying for the major and providing them with intensive tech-enabled advising support.

Solution: Auburn partnered with EAB in 2014 and implemented Navigate across campus. Within the highly selective Engineering program, advising leadership uses Navigate alerts and cases to flag and support students at risk of not qualifying for the major to retain them within Engineering. A dedicated counselor then advises these students, enforcing positive academic behaviors.

Impact: Through these efforts, in just three years Auburn decreased the portion of students leaving the Engineering program as a result of mandatory referrals by 73 percentage points. In 2018, they retained 94% of pre-Engineering Success Contract students at the university, thus generating $2M in estimated tuition and fee revenue.

Middle Tennessee State University

Challenge: In response to state-wide pressure to improve outcomes, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) created the “Quest for Student Success” plan, but needed a way to track and move the dial on metrics across the institution. MTSU’s advising units were also severely understaffed and under-resourced to serve a challenging student population on the ground.

Solution: MTSU set out to drive rapid gains through changes informed by data and best practices. Joining the Collaborative in spring 2014 allowed MTSU to empower staff with data and execute a campus-wide strategy focused on persistence.

Impact: Through its partnership with EAB, within the first 120 days of launching the platform, MTSU was able to increase overall persistence by 1.5 percentage points, retaining an additional 390 students for $1.5M in spring tuition revenue. They also improved four-year graduation by 4.3%.

Salisbury University

Challenge: Advising at Salisbury was owned by faculty and housed within each school, with no shared information about goals or outreach efforts. Many students were not well-prepared for critical courses in their degree path, with some stopping out as a result, or delaying their time to graduation. As enrollment increased, Salisbury “outgrew” its faculty advising model but lacked sufficient resources and buy-in to move to a hybrid professional-faculty model.

Solution: Over the course of one year, Salisbury’s AVP of Academic Affairs and Assistant VP of Enrollment Management led the charge to rally campus around new, data-driven best practices. They conducted a large-scale retreat that brought together advising, student affairs, and enrollment management to collaborate and build a campus-wide targeted campaign calendar. Simultaneously, they enacted programmatic changes to encourage timely degree completion.

Impact: As a result of these efforts, Salisbury saw a 2% increase in first-time, full-time retention and successfully made the case to transition to a hybrid advising model for the fall of 2016.

Buena Vista University

Challenge: Between 2017 and 2018, Buena Vista University (BVU) failed to retain 40% of their freshman class. They identified various contributing factors, including a decline in the average high school GPA and test scores for incoming students. While they understood why students weren’t retaining, BVU lacked an efficient process to identify, intervene with, and monitor students in need of help to keep them on track.

Solution: BVU partnered with EAB in the Spring of 2018 to address their retention problem. They hired four new staff members focused on retention and launched progress reports campus-wide so faculty could flag disengaged and struggling students. In the Fall of 2019, they expanded EAB’s Navigate to additional offices beyond advising, who used the platform to contact students with registration holds, connecting them with the support needed to reenroll.

Impact: Over the past three years, BVU’s freshman fall-to-spring retention increased by 11.1 percentage points. Student academic performance also improved—the portion of freshmen with a 2.5+ GPA increased 18.2 percentage points from 2017 to 2019.

Transforming Academic Advising

Florida State University

Challenge: In analyzing the progression of CARE students, Florida State University (FSU) recognized a significant drop-off in the retention of sophomores. FSU needed to more effectively and efficiently integrate student academic information into the individualized attention CARE provides.

Solution: FSU now requires all CARE sophomores to participate in College Life Coaching. Coaches use EAB’s Navigate platform to enhance their impact and improve the overall experience for these students.

Impact: The most dramatic outcome of College Life Coaching for CARE sophomores has been a significant increase in retention from sophomore to junior year, with the largest gains coming in the last two years as FSU began using EAB technology.

University of South Carolina

Challenge: Despite strong institutional performance, USC’s advising structure was fragmented and advising practices were nonstandardized. As a result, students’ experience (and satisfaction) varied widely across colleges, departments, and individual advisors.

Solution: USC joined EAB’s Student Success Collaborative to coordinate different offices and improve the student experience. USC established an advising taskforce and implemented recommendations based on EAB’s best practice guidance, and connected advising and student services together in a Coordinated Care Network.

Impact: During a time of considerable enrollment growth, USC saw a 3.7% increase in their four-year graduation rate, as well as a 1% increase in their six-year graduation rate.

University of Alaska Anchorage

Challenge: Many incoming UAA students are underprepared for college, leading to excess credit attempts and low retention and completion rates. Concerningly, Alaska Native students are at even greater risk of not completing than their peers.

Solution: To better support all students as they transition to college life, UAA developed a new first-year advising program that uses degree maps based on placement test data to help students choose the right courses. They implemented Navigate to ensure staff and students have the tools they need to succeed.

Impact: Alaska Native student outcomes have improved markedly over five years—this student population’s six-year graduation rate increased by 13.8%, and their retention rate increased by 5.9%. More freshmen are taking appropriate credit loads and passing lower-division courses. Additionally, UAA now has a 5% higher first-time, full-time (FTFT) overall retention rate compared to peer institutions.

Grand View University

Challenge: Academic advising was disjointed, with inconsistent plans of study, unconnected silos of support, and students expressing confusion about where to seek assistance. Previous efforts to impact student success were not effective in mitigating these issues.

Solution: In Fall 2017, Grand View University (GV) launched a new advising model to coordinate student care via a network of professional advisors and campus support. After partnering with EAB, GV strategically brought faculty and support units onto the platform through trainings that started with a strong foundation of necessary knowledge and grew from there based on a user’s role and needs.

Impact: Since joining the Collaborative in early 2017, GV has seen a 5.6% increase in students registered for Fall 2018, as well as a 3.6% increase in fall-to-fall first-year retention.

Keuka College

Challenge: Prior to fall 2016, faculty conducted the majority of advising, sometimes delivering inconsistent care to students. Faculty advisors have unevenly distributed caseloads with little accountability, and at times, are unable to effectively intervene with the students most in need of support.

Solution: Keuka College advisors now use EAB Navigate to track student performance and activity and to engage with their students. Keuka College also transitioned and added new Success Advisors to supplement and enhance faculty advising.

Impact: From Fall 2017 to Fall 2018, overall retention increased 3.8%, and first-year retention increased 2.1%.