Student Success Insights Blog

How one institution identified where to focus their advising efforts—and retained 400 additional students

by Ed Venit

You may have noticed that SSC member Middle Tennessee State University has received some nice press over the last few weeks showcasing their student success efforts, and you may be wondering why they’re garnering special attention. How is their approach different from what your campus is doing?

MTSU is one of the first schools to adopt the population health management framework that we first introduced during our national summit, CONNECTED, last year. They are using the risk-stratification principles found in population health management to act on the student success analytics they receive through SSC Campus. Across the 2014-15 school year, MTSU retained an additional 400 students and increased net revenue by $1.5M.

What is population health management for higher education?

In the health care industry, population health management helps hospitals reorganize limited resources to meet the growing demands of an aging population. The same can be true for higher education. Just as hospitals struggle to serve their patients with a finite staff of doctors and nurses, so too do advisors, faculty, and other student-facing staff struggle to meet the needs of students who are increasingly first-generation, academically underprepared, and financially disadvantaged.

By segmenting students by risk level, institutions can focus on providing just the right amount of care to each individual:

  • Higher risk cases receive care coordinated across multiple offices
  • Advisors closely monitor moderate risk cases with analytics to anticipate problems before they escalate
  • Lower risk cases, representing the majority of the student body, take advantage of self-service advising whenever possible, in addition to preventative measures to keep “healthy”

By reorganizing their advising office around risk levels, MTSU was able to reach out to, connect with, and retain 400 additional students—in one year!

Is risk-based segmentation right for your institution? Find out with our diagnostic

Additional resources on population management

We believe strongly in the benefits of this approach, and so we have created two resources to make it easier for you to learn about the framework and implement it on your own campus:

  • The first is a white paper that lays out the logic behind the framework. It’s a quick read for anyone looking to get quickly up to speed on the theory and includes helpful examples of how SSC members have already put pieces of the framework into practice.
  • The second is an infographic that describes population health management as a new blueprint for student success.

As colleges and universities continue to adopt specific practices from the PHM framework, we will continue to share what works and doesn’t—and communicate with you how these ideas are evolving.


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