One Answer?

Sitting in the focus group the other day, there was only one question that, if posed to me, I could have answered immediately and without hesitation. If asked what makes the biggest difference for student success, I would have said “Individual attention” without missing a beat.

At the time, I would have had no data or research to support my answer–nothing except anecdotal evidence–but that was before I read this article about a variety of Community College initiatives that all share the goal of increasing individual attention to students, particularly those at risk for various reasons:

It doesn’t sound particularly revolutionary. But leaders of Howard Community College have found that students who meet regularly with volunteer “coaches” are significantly more likely to continue their studies than classmates who do not.

Later in the same piece:

The program is designed as a forum for students to share the worries – ill relatives, punishing hours, unpaid bills – that prompt so many to abandon their studies. Coaches may offer empathy, encouragement and advice. Mostly, though, they are there to listen.

“Nobody’s judging them,” Heffer said. “We are pulling for the student, but nobody has an agenda for them.”

Four years of data show weekly coaching is especially useful to “developmental” students, those who are not yet ready for college-level work. Dropout rates are especially high for those students. But semester-to-semester retention has ranged from 86 percent to 96 percent for developmental students in the Step UP program, compared with about 75 percent for those who were not coached. The program has boosted GPAs as well.

Check out the rest here.