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Partner Stories

Guiding Students and Improving Advisor Visibility at Elizabeth City State University with Academic Planning in EAB’s Navigate

Public HBCU
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Approximately 1,695 students


Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) is a historically black public university with 1,695 students, a 73% retention rate, and a 39% six-year graduation rate.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Addressing Barriers to Long-Term Academic Planning

ECSU advisors help students create informed plans, which help increase preregistration rates.

Barrier to Success

  • Students don’t have full knowledge of degree requirements, which can lead to decisions that increase time to degree
  • Advisors lack visibility into course offerings across multiple semesters, making it difficult to provide informed guidance

Academic Planning

  • Students can view degree maps, requirements, and completed coursework while automated guardrails prevent common errors and inefficiencies
  • Advisors can edit, plan, add comments, flag courses, and identify and contact students with errors in their plans

New Process at ECSU

  • All freshmen create a plan in Navigate that they refer to throughout their academic journey, ensuring they stay on course to graduate
  • Advisors attend trainings on Navigate so they go into every advising session prepared to help students complete their plans


  • 1,414

    Students with completed Academic Plans in Navigate who have registered for Fall 2020

  • +35 percentage points

    Increase in preregistration rate with Navigate Academic Planning

ECSU Stakeholders Use Survey Insights to Provide Timely Support

Quick Polls in Navigate engage students in campus activities and resources, which improves retention.

Poll: Welcome to ECSU! What resources do you need?
Outcome: Students receive resources based on key attributes (e.g., commuters) and interests e.g., volunteering

Poll: How are you feeling about college so far?
Outcome: Relevant offices contact disconnected students to suggest clubs and activities, fostering a sense of belonging

Poll: Why haven’t you registered for next semester yet?
Outcome: Advisors identify students with financial concerns, lack of course options, etc. and offer them help


  • 88%

    of Navigate student users replied to a Quick Poll about registration barriers, allowing advisors to track those in need of support

  • 90.2%

    of those students tracked in Navigate returned the following term

Using Navigate to Support Struggling Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Progress Reports

  • Encourage faculty to flag students who might struggle with remote learning (history of low participation, etc.)
  • 8,170 responses to Spring 2020 Progress Report Campaign

Quick Polls

  • Identify students facing barriers to accessing online courses, including financial hardship or lack of technology
  • 17 students flagged for additional support from Quick Polls

Comprehensive Navigate Partnership Drives Improvements in Key Outcomes

Improvement in Preregistration Rate, 2018-2019

Elizabeth City State University saw an increase in preregistration after partnering with EAB's Navigate

Improvement in Four-Year Graduation Rate, 2017-2018

Elizabeth City State University four-year graduation rate improved by four percentage points

Between 2015 and 2017, ECSU saw major retention improvements while using the Navigate platform:

  • +5% increase in freshman retention
  • +12% increase in sophomore retention

It’s the many little things Navigate does to help enhance the campus culture that ultimately leads to the data showing our improvement.


Farrah Jackson Ward

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs