a group of happy, healthy-looking college students studying at a table

It’s time to redefine student success

Higher ed is stuck in the paradigm that if college students complete their degrees, they will be successful

Teaching students to define their own success

A transformative model with high-impact practices is available to help impart holistic student success. Research-based best practices provide guidance for professionals working in critical student success functional areas—academic advising, career services, counseling and psychological services, faculty teaching, and student engagement.

The Integrated Success (iSuccess) model helps colleges and universities develop psychologically healthy and self-aware students as a part of their educational mission. The model—which empowers students to create their own pathways to success in college and in life—includes:

  • Integrated Self Model (iSelf) – a framework to help students understand their holistic selves through self-system and positive psychology attributes.
  • Self Across the Curriculum (SAC) – a pedagogy to teach students self-knowledge through curricula.
  • Success Predictor (SP) – a student success assessment instrument and intervention tool to help students define their own paths to success.

When the self becomes the lens through which students learn, students can balance cognitive with non-cognitive factors to become happy and whole people who are equipped to create a positive life and make contributions toward a better society.

Related: Student wellbeing is more important than you think

A lack of self-knowledge is a risk factor that can lead to harmful behaviors, lack of motivation, detachment from academic studies, and decreased resilience required to overcome obstacles. Dropout rates from colleges point to students’ lack of self-understanding and purposeful direction. Therefore, retention itself should not be our focus, but rather student well-being, student satisfaction, and student-directed success pathways.

Think about it: Can we say a student is succeeding if he or she is not well or not effectively handling health issues? Can students say that they are succeeding if they are filled with anxiety and having difficulty functioning? Student success is simply not possible without well-being.

To implement a comprehensive model of student success and best practices that empower students to take charge of their own definition of success, we need to give students the tools to chart their own pathways, as well as to more pro-actively use the extensive resources that can be made available to them at colleges and universities. If and when we do this, student affairs and academic affairs will be more effective in empowering their students’ success.

eSchool Media Contributors
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