A maze depicting the struggle some higher ed student support teams face.

10 ways student support teams can solve common challenges

Student support teams can get bogged down in procedures and are prevented from actually serving students

Student support teams are often pulled in multiple directions at once, and the demands placed on these teams often leave many students “on hold.”

Survey data from 40 institutions conducted over the past 5 years shows that higher-ed policies and processes make it difficult for student support teams to identify and address the roadblocks between their teams and success.

This data uncovers some of the most common challenges student support teams face, and the accompanying report from InsideTrack, which spotlights different institutions and how they addressed student support needs, is intended to help student support teams create a structural framework to address obstacles preventing them from fulfilling their roles.

Read more: How to improve support for part-time students

Austin Community College (ACC), featured in the report, gave its student support and advising an overhaul after realizing students’ needs were changing.

“Several years back, we realized that in order for us to make some significant headway at scale, we were going to have to redesign and reimagine our advising,” says Dr. Virginia Fraire, ACC’s vice president of student services. “Our demographics have changed significantly and our processes and structure weren’t keeping up with the needs of our changing population.”

The team at ACC realized it needed more data, and better infrastructure, to support a new advising system.

“It’s very difficult to assess any kind of impact when you don’t have good data,” Fraire adds.

“It’s taken a lot of leadership, change, reorganizing, and setting up a complete analytics department; that opened our eyes and it gives us the data to help us know what we need to do to make a difference,” says Dr. Wade Bradfute, executive dean of student services for ACC’s south region.

ACC learned more about its student support needs using InsideTrack, and Bradfute says that shed light on the many non-academic factors contributing to students’ need for support and guidance. Close to 80 percent of ACC students are part-time, and nearly 50 percent are providing some sort of support for their families while they’re attending.

Laura Ascione