History of Student Success/Pathways Efforts at College of DuPage

February 2008 through October 2017

In February of 2008 a retreat was held for Administrators on Strategic Enrollment Management. In the presentation, retention was presented as a key component of enrollment.

In August of 2009 an Enrollment Management presentation was given at a Cabinet retreat that included the need for a Retention Plan along with a Recruitment Plan, and an overall Strategic Enrollment Plan.

In January of 2011 Dr. Joseph Collins, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs was asked to prepare a concept paper that provided an overview of current practices to attract, enroll, advise and retain students, and recommendations for the future in relation to those areas. The paper was entitled “A Proposal to Review Student Services at College of DuPage.”

Earl Dowling was hired in February of 2011. In April he and a colleague were charged with conducting a study and providing recommendations for a Presidential Commission titled ReSET – Reconceiving the Student Experience (Team). In October of 2011 twenty-seven recommendations were submitted with the caveat, “The institutional culture needs to change if College of DuPage is to achieve the goals of increased student satisfaction and retention, an enhanced College-wide focus on student service, and enrollment growth.”

In November of 2011 the Senior Management Team (SMT) reviewed the twenty-seven ReSET recommendations and found them all to have merit. The SMT reformatted the recommendations into the Enhanced Student Experience Implementation Plan (ESEIP) which contained 10 Objectives. The objectives included such items as: reducing within term attrition; aligning staff roles for student success and retention; expansion of the advisement framework; and the creation of an enhanced customer service environment.

For the ensuing fifteen months much work took place to research, plan and implement a number of the objectives. In January of 2013 the ESEIP Objective #3 Team was created out of Student Affairs to carry on the work of this particular objective: “Provide enhanced customer service to make it easy for students to apply, register, make payment arrangements, test, and apply for graduation, etc.” The rationale provided in the document underscored the attention to the entire student experience from enrollment through to becoming an “active alumnus.”

Work continued on Objectives 4 and 5 which addressed within term attrition, student success and retention. And, by March of 2013 the name of the team changed to include all of these objectives into the “Transitions Team.” It is under this title the team conducted a significant student survey that yielded valuable data resulting in six recommendations, one of which was the implementation of “Guided Enrollment Pathways.” (996 students responded – a 9.85 response rate for the currently enrolled student population, and 82 students participating in focus groups).

The work of the QIP 15 Team:Improving Academic Performance Action Project began in the spring of 2013 and concluded in the spring of 2016. The team focused on within term retention (10th day to end-of-term) and success (obtaining a grade of A, B, or C) rates for students engaged in online learning or developmental coursework. Improvements have been realized in all three areas.

In August of 2013 the fall convocation main presentation was entitled “Creating Student Pathways.” In September of 2013 the Transitions Team became the Student Success Council. But, shortly thereafter, in March of 2014, the Executive Vice President formed an oversight Student Success Council and the original Council became the Working Group. 

Additionally, the Working Group made some recommendations to the Council that would significantly further Pathways work, such as midterm grading, regular usage of Blackboard Grade Center, attendance tracking in Blackboard, and the adoption of meta-majors.

The Tech Team was created in January of 2014 as a subteam to recommend, monitor, and implement technology that supported student success.

The administrative level Council divided its work according to the stages of a student’s experience through an institution of higher learning outlined by Completion by Design – Connection, Entry, Progress and Completion. It was also during the spring of 2014 that Davis Jenkins of the Community College Research Center was invited to campus for faculty development. Presentations at that time included recommendations for Guided Pathways. The decision to join the Higher Learning Commission Academy for Completion and Persistence occurred during the spring of 2014 as well. 

A Resources for Excellence grant was secured in order to carry out one of the Council’s recommendations to implement consistent and comprehensive onboarding programming for new students. The first cohort was in the spring for fall 2014 and each year since that time the program has evolved and improved. The program has achieved significant results in student persistence and academic performance.

In the fall of 2014 four teaching faculty members were added to the Council to ensure heavy influence and interest from Academic Affairs along with Student Affairs and other areas. Later another five faculty members were added. The SWOT team was created as a subteam of the Council to streamline enrollment processes and improve onboarding communications. 

Throughout 2015 the Student Success Team worked on numerous student success related projects including guided pathways and used the Jenkins tool as a starting point. In the spring of 2015 recommendations were submitted to executive Student Success Council on Mid-term Grading, Meta-Majors, Blackboard Grading, and the Student Email policy. Much data was generated and reviewed to determine areas in need of improvement for student success. Several student leaders were added to the team.

In April of 2016 Mike Brigner of Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, visited campus for a day to talk about the increases they have achieved in student success based upon the guided pathways model.

In January of 2016 the Student Success Team reverted back to being the Student Success Council. The work continued under the Completion by Design four subteams and numerous projects were identified based upon data review. The 27 recommendations were distilled down to 11 priorities such as a student success learning community, early alert improvements, student success links in Blackboard, FYE course exploration, preparation of course maps, adoption of meta-majors or areas of interest, promotion of student engagement, diversity education enhancements, and enhanced transfer assistance. These priorities have been the subject of the work of the Council up until the present time.

The Council created and hosted three events in the Fall of 2016 to educate the college community on student success and guided pathways. Two events led up to the main In-Service event, and included two student panels that discussed the support the College provides to help students achieve their goals. All events were well-received and results of the In-Service were posted on a Student Success Blackboard shell.

Throughout the last five years of the Council, in its various forms, it has been committed to a thorough literature review, regular data generation and review, and implementation of student success support initiatives wherever possible. One can see from the accomplishments, recent priorities, and recommendations, that the work has continued tirelessly and improvements in institutional metrics have been realized.