II. Learning and Success
While the growing burden on students and their families to finance a college education is the leading reason why students begin but do not complete college, a sense among students that no one cares about them and that they are not part of a supportive community is the second greatest cause of non-completion. The greatest financial burden and the greatest sense of alienation among college students is felt by students of color. Unless we deal effectively with finances and community issues, students of color will continue to complete college at lower than average rates, and the achievement gaps between all graduates and students of color will persist. Increasingly, students transfer one or more times before completing their degrees. Are there additional and perhaps more appropriate measures of student success than first-year retention rates and four- or six-year graduation rates?
At the same time, the gap between the demand and supply of college-educated workers in the labor force continues to grow. In fact, as demand increases, enrollment in higher education is declining and competition for students is increasing. What does an effective enrollment management plan look like? Given the changing demographics of our country, the labor supply gap will persist if we do not implement strategies that create more inclusive, supportive, and equitable campus communities, with financial and other support services for students to raise graduation rates, eliminate achievement gaps, and improve other measures of student success. Too often, colleges and universities sustain an underlying culture of “no” focused on maintaining current practices regardless of effectiveness rather than a culture of “no excuses” for not improving the success of students from all backgrounds. How do we create a more positive, diverse, inclusive, and socially just campus culture?
- Creating a diverse, inclusive, and supportive community.
Virtually all academic institutions strive for diversity, inclusion, and a supportive community. What are the structural characteristics and policies and procedures of institutions that are most successful in attaining those goals?
- Student success.
What are best practices for raising graduation rates, closing achievement gaps, and improving other measures of student success? How does an institution develop an enrollment management plan that is effective and responsive to societal needs?