low-income graduates

Higher education agrees: Student graduation takes a village

College and university leadership say the factors that lead to student graduation are as diverse as a student body; and more about common sense than technology.

student-graduation-college [Editor’s note: This story originally ran as a feature in our Oct/Nov. digital publication. Read more features part of this issue here.]

From new college rankings to government funding initiatives, higher education is under increasing pressure to prove student outcomes success with graduation rates as an indicator. But at what stage of a student’s postsecondary experience does retention become a concern, and what can an institution do to keep its students on track?

Though technology tools like an integrated LMS that can process student engagement analytics can be a helpful part of an institution’s toolkit, experts in the industry and higher-ed leadership say not only should a college or university be concerned with retention starting at admissions, but sometimes the best way to ensure students graduate is to employ common sense thinking about a student’s overall postsecondary experience.

It’s a Trifecta for Students

Dr Shawntel Landry_300By Dr. Shawntel Landry, American College of Education

I would argue that there are three primary factors that influence a student’s potential to stay on track for graduation: cost, convenience, and outcomes-based programs measured against self-evaluation and peer review methods.

Cost is perhaps the most prohibitive factor, as students who do not qualify for financial assistance or who can no longer afford to pay their way through a program are often forced to temporarily pause their progress, or withdraw altogether. As tuition prices outpace expected salaries, the risk of students falling into one or both of these categories increases.

Convenience is also a heavily-weighted factor. Coursework that’s adoptive of modern technology and flexible for the demanding schedules of today’s students–who often work and raise a family while in school–is imperative to eliminating challenges that prevent students from attending required courses. American College of Education’s online-only, 24/7 access eliminates restrictive traditional models that require students to attend either in-person or online on a specific day and/or time, in order to make degree progress.

Finally, outcomes-based programs measured through self-evaluation and peer review methods assure that students are retaining the necessary information, eliminating the likelihood that a student needs to re-take coursework, or graduates unprepared for his or her field. A 2014 study of ACE students showed that self-evaluation and peer reviews provided documentation that goals and standards set by the College were met from both an evaluator’s perspective and the students’ perception of the program. This is not the case for many other institutions.

Minding these three tenets, American College of Education has improved graduation rates and shortened time to graduation. ACE graduates 73 percent of its students compared to the national average between 50-64 percent, with 76 percent of master’s program students finishing their degrees within 18-months and without the burden of additional student loan debt. American College of Education is regionally accredited and provides affordable, advanced degree programs for educators.

Dr. Shawntel Landry, provost and interim president, American College of Education.

(Next page: No one-size-fits-all; innovative first year programs)