At Lorain County Community College (LCCC) and at institutions across the country, student success teams work hard to support student perseverance through their degree program with limited information and resources. They’re balancing long hours, multiple responsibilities and sometimes, shifting priorities.
In spite of these challenges, they do this work because they are passionate about improving outcomes for the students they serve. The reality is that these advisors are operating without a complete picture for many students to make decisions based on limited data or generalized information.
Their top priority is to drive student completion for academic and career success. They also needed to make the most of their existing limited resources and ensure they were building a collaborative, evidence-based culture to improve student success. They realized that in order to do this, they needed to create a model of one advisor per student while ensuring their systems and processes were student-ready.
For LCCC, key focus areas centered around decreasing completion time through an improved student experience and refined, personalized degree paths. In our work together with LCCC, we equipped their administrators, advisors and faculty with the “same platform of information,” which helped to inform their decisions and identify opportunities to add precision in their student support.
“We had to support decision-making on the front lines,” said Tracy Green, Vice President of Strategic and Institutional Development. “We wanted to use data to drive our long-term strategy so we could drive the changes we wanted strategically, on an individual student-by-student basis.”
For LCCC, this includes a focus on creating personalized pathways for their students. They are uncovering course insights to consider when designing a pathway to improve degree progression through enhanced scheduling.
LCCC students shared that they wanted one specific advisor to really connect with on a consistent basis. Previously, students reported that they met with up to seven different advisors and were told up to seven different things. This sparked a realization that they needed to work with students differently. Current processes in place weren’t working effectively enough. New student requirements were put in place to ensure LCCC understood each student’s goals early on.
Now, our advisors are connecting with students from the very first connection to the point of completion
Instead of meeting with multiple advisors throughout their journey, each student gets to develop a relationship with their academic advisor who specializes in their degree pathway.
As LCCC’s largest initiative in 30 years, the academic redesign was a move away from a “generalist” advising approach. This transformed to a more personalized, career-aligned student support and a shift administration and advisors could really lean into.
Just the beginning for LCCC’s redesign.
By evolving into this new evidence based approach to design clear and structured pathways to improve completion, LCCC students now average taking less credits per degree. Retention and graduation rates have increased, and has resulted in a return on value to the tune of $1.8M with increased performance funding. But, most importantly, it has opened up even more opportunities to help their students succeed with the expectation LCCC will continue to evolve over time.
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With a focus on student progression and completion, Lorain County Community College has successfully navigated the change management and design process to redesign the student experience and leverage student success solutions — empowering and supporting students from their first day to graduation day.
Tina Donahoo is a Principal Consultant of Partner Outcomes at Civitas Learning. She helps increase student success by measuring impact of products on campus initiatives, outreach campaigns, and sharing discoveries back with Partners. She also teaches institutions how to measure their own initiatives and interpret the findings while providing learning activities to increase adoption and improve outcomes. She received her master’s degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. When she is not cheering her two boys on at the baseball fields, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two sons.