EdSurge Guide

Crossing the Finish Line: Stories on Student Success and What Colleges Are Doing to Get There

Crossing the Finish Line: Stories on Student Success and What Colleges Are Doing to Get There

“Student success” is somewhat of an ambiguous term that no one seems to agree on. Is it measured by graduation rates? Job placement? GPA? Among the debate, one thing is clear: improving all forms of student success (regardless of an institution’s definition) is on the mind of many higher-ed changemakers.

That’s especially true in today’s era of increased performance-based funding, declining student enrollment and changing demographics, where many students are working, raising children or are first in their family to attend college. In response, campuses big and small are beginning to rethink the way they offer education—starting with the advising and degree planning services that help students along the way.

An array of technology has spurred out of student success initiatives, from early alert systems to predictive analytics, data dashboards and even texting reminders straight to students’ cell phones. (Here's EdSurge’s framework for vetting tools that support student success.)

The new tools are shifting advisors’ roles, too. No longer are these leaders simply planning student schedules—technology (like a “Netflix” for course selection) has this covered. Now, academic advisors are making time for bigger conversations around career planning and what kind of support non-traditional students need to get there.

But like all new technology, flashy advising systems don’t come without their fair share of concerns and skeptics. By flagging students who are more at risk of falling through the cracks, do tools like predictive analytics pigeonhole students into stereotypes and paths they aren’t destined to? And for campuses taking a deep plunge into change, what happens when faculty and staff get burnt out?

In this guide you’ll hear from the higher-ed thought leaders, researchers, advisors, developers and faculty who are driving the daunting and innovative advising initiatives to help more students reach their finish line.

Sydney Johnson, guide producer and assistant editor, Higher Ed 

A Changing Advising Landscape

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Image credit: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Tools and Technology for Student Success

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Change-making Campuses

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As the University of South Africa Considers Predictive Analytics, Ethical Hoops Emerge

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When it comes to choosing tools and programs targeting student success, institutional leaders have a strong say when it comes to purchasing decisions, according to a report by Tyton Partners. Meanwhile academic and faculty advisors, who work directly with the tools and implement change initiatives, have relatively little influence in the products their leaders select for their institutions and departments.

Image Credit: Tyton Partners, Report: Driving toward a Degree: Establishing a Baseline on Integrated Approaches to Planning and Advising

Image Credit: Tyton Partners, Report: Driving toward a Degree: Establishing a Baseline on Integrated Approaches to Planning and Advising

On September 27, EdSurge hosted a meetup event where experts gathered to discuss: Can technology get more students to a degree? Panelists included Dwight Smith (Assistant Director of Programs at Beyond12), Charles Thornburgh (CEO at Civitas), Jazzie Murphy (Director of Academic Advising at Sacramento State) and Hoori Santikian Kalamkarian (Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Community College Research Center). You can check out a recording of the event below. 


This guide was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. EdSurge retains sole editorial control and responsibility for the content in this guide.

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