Finish in Four: The Advisor's Role in Moving Students from Retention to Degree Completion
Finish in FourThe Advisor’s Role inMoving Students fromRetention to Degree CompletionNACADA Region 8 Conference March 19, 2012
Advising within the National HigherEducation Context: An HistoricalOverview Access to higher education Increased enrollment in higher education Retention of students (Timely) Degree completion
The Current National Higher EducationPolicy Agenda: Problems &Stakeholders Student indebtedness in 2010: $25,000+ Graduation Rates: 60.6% of full- time students earn a Bachelor’s degree within 8 years Stakeholders: Students, states, the nation
High Student Indebtedness and LowGraduation Rates: The Perfect Storm High cost of dropping out to students – large debt loads and forfeiting of the higher income that accompanies a degree Lost income equals less money in the market, less state and federal tax receipts Taxpayer money funding grants for students who ultimately don’t
The Good News: Advisors Know Howto Solve these ProblemsWe Know What Works in Retention Advising is central to any retention effort Advising that seeks out students, maintains contact with them, and brings them into the process is most likely to increase retention Advising efforts that increase retention are comprehensive and coordinated Centralizing decentralized learning environments
PathwayOregon: A Retention andDegree Completion Program at the UO• Currently serving approximately 1,400actively enrolled students• We have three full-time professionals, apart-time administrative supportprofessional, and two Peer Advisors• We serve lower-income, Pell Grant eligibleOregonians: 44% are first-generation, 30%students of color• We will graduate our first cohort, at arecord-setting percentage, before fall 2012
The Promise: Affordability andAccess• First-time freshmen Oregonians who meetlower-income criteria established by theUO’s Financial Aid Office are guaranteedthat their tuition and fees will be coveredwithout loans for 12 terms• Students have 5 years to complete those12 terms• Students must remain in academic goodstanding, remain Pell Grant eligible, andcomplete atStudentscredits per termwithObjective: least 12 will graduate(wheneverthan that of previous likeless debt possible, students are advised totake 15 credits per term)
The Program: Retention to Degree Completion Degree Completion = Retention + Progress• IntroDUCKtion (summer orientation) fee waiver• Advanced tracking system• Collaboration with other departments to provideservices• Social events• Workshops: Advising and subject specific(study abroad)• Free term of tutoring• Housed in a largergraduate at center exceedObjective: Students will learning rates that• Proactive Advising – outreach, outreach, &historical resident Pell Grant eligible groups and their non-Pell Grant eligible resident peersmore outreach
The Partnership: Student & Advisor RolesStudent RoleTo take responsibility for their learning process, aswell as their academic and personal decisionsAdvisor RoleTo assist the student in identifying next appropriateacademic and personal steps, and to help thestudent access the resources necessary to takethose steps.* To acknowledge this partnership, students sign aPartnership Agreement outlining academic benchmarks andproviding PathwayOregon Advisors with contactinformation, including cell phone numbers.
Advisor Strategies: Centralize Each advisor is empowered to solve problems as they appear Advisors address financial aid issues each time a student is in the office Recommend summer term in place of returning for a 5th year Advisor’s review students’ graduation plans at each appointment Each advisor has the authority to review student billing account information and explain this information to students Each advisor is prepared to help students sort through majors through a “Majors Card Sort Activity.” Each advisor has a general understanding of student billing, financial aid, academic policies/procedures, academic requirements, study abroad, and career center
Administration Strategies: Coordinate Established liaisons with each of the following offices: Financial Aid, Study Abroad, Career Center, Student Billing Office, Office of the Registrar, numerous academic departments with professional advisors Collect cell phone numbers at summer orientation (IntroDUCKtion) Track all advising appointments, as well as progress toward objectives term-by-term and year-by-year Survey students in order to evaluate and make programmatic improvements Create outreach lists and CALL all students who need phone calls on a variety of issues (FAFSA completion, UNDL status, probation status) Mandatory freshman advising each term w/ability to hold registration
Campus Strategies: IdentifyObstacles Coordinated summer orientation so that PathwayOregon students are assigned to PathwayOregon Advisors (collaboration with Office of Academic Advising) Institutional research support in order to analyze student demographics and progress toward objectives Discover institutional policies/practices that do not support decreasing indebtedness and increasing 4- year graduation rates and work to change them Advocate for additional advisors and student positions Continue to raise awareness about the importance of increasing timely graduation and decreasing student indebtedness
ConclusionIF… “Substantive advising services are a prerequisite for the successful transition of students into the postsecondary system as well as for their persistence to completion” (Habley, 2004). “Academic advising is like commuter airlines in that it is viewed as necessary, but not central, to the mission of colleges and universities. I further offer that if existing trends continue and existing attitudes prevail,THEN…advising will become fixed as a function on the role of the periphery of higher education (Habley, 2004).The advising profession needs to demonstrate centralityto the mission of higher education by showing that wecan increase timely graduation rates and decreasestudent indebtedness.