Student success doesn't mean what it did a decade ago

From access to return on education

Administrators' definitions of student success have evolved over the years, according to Ed Venit, a senior director at EAB and an expert on student success, speaking to The EvoLLLution.

In his research with EAB's Student Success Collaborative, Venit found that while administrators focused on different elements of student success in different decades, each decade’s respective efforts still remain embedded in today’s student success programs.

For instance, according to Venit, during the 1970s and 80s, there was a big push to support minority students or other students in underrepresented groups. In the 1990s, colleges focused on the critical time of transition to college and freshman year. In the 2000s, colleges turned to technology and early warning systems. Elements of each of these efforts remain critical to today’s student success efforts.

Venit says the pace of change is also speeding up. As schools increasingly enroll more low-income students, many colleges and universties are racing to build support systems for this previously underserved student group.

Lastly, Venit notes that today’s student success efforts are focusing on what he calls "return on education"that is, understanding what each individual student hopes to get out of the college experience. This shift towards return on education, and away from a laser focus on any one metric, is a shift in mindset for many institutions (Venit, The EvoLLLution, 3/31).


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