Carroll University’s Student Success Program (SSP) developed several strategies to improve recruitment, retention, and graduation of Hispanic students. First, the director of student success, a new position, developed the program and provided orientation and ongoing advising to SSP participants.
Five faculty and staff members were selected as advisers to provide broad support for participants, adding to the support already provided by the students’ academic advisors. Much of this support came in the form of meetings over breakfast or lunch. All participating advisers continued into the second year, and they continued to advise their original students along with a new group of first-year students.
Advisor training was conducted in both year one and year two. Led by the SSP director, the training focused on the characteristics of first-generation students, retention risk factors, issues related to integration into college, and Carroll support services.
The program also used mentors, who were themselves first-generation students and SSP participants. They used a series of exercises designed to help students adjust to college life.
SSP students, advisors, and mentors helped to enlarge Carroll’s relationship with the Bruce Guadalupe Community School (BGCS) in Milwaukee. The university hosted more than 200 BGCS students at various on- and off-campus events, including a week-long summer pre-college program for Latino students. This effort also served as an admission outreach effort.
Student scholarships of $2,000 were provided to students entering the program. In addition, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to 12 second-year students in the fall and 11 in the spring who were new to the program.
Finally, the university developed and introduced the Retention Management System, a software package. Based on Carroll’s persistence data, the system monitors the critical variables related to persistence to help identify students who are at risk for leaving college. An Online Student Alert Form also was developed to enable any faculty or staff member to easily report concerns about a student to the director of student success.
The average GPA of the SSP students for the fall semester was 2.90 percent compared with a university average GPA of 2.99 percent. In the spring semester, the average GPA of SSP students increased to 3.04 percent. Given the deficiencies in academic preparation of many of these students in the targeted campus population (first-generation Hispanic), it is believed these results reflect improved academic performance over what might have been expected.
The fall 2008 to fall 2009 retention rate for the SSP program was 80 percent, while the institution’s rate was 77 percent. The fall 2009 to fall 2010 retention rate for the SSP program was 83 percent and the institution’s 77 percent. These increased retention rates exceeded the program goal of 74 percent.
The institution also was strengthened by improved advising/mentoring systems and professional development for faculty and staff members as well as by the software package that was developed to identify and track at-risk students.
In 2009, Carroll received a Title III grant that allowed for development of a college-wide advising program that built on the experience with the SSP advisor program and experiences.
In November 2012, Carroll University was awarded a $62,527 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to support Project 2016, a program that will help improve the retention and persistence rates of 40 undergraduate students in the Class of 2016. Project 2016 builds upon existing programs established by the Office of Student Success in the past four years, including the Student Success Program funded by the CIC/Walmart College Success Award.
Staff offer proactive advising meetings, ongoing academic support, and workshops designed to connect students to on-campus resources. Project 2016 begins with first-year students and focuses on improving semester-to-semester and year-to-year retention until graduation.