Meeting the Completion Challenge

Targeting High-Return Student Success Strategies

Topics: Community College, Advising, Academic Affairs, Developmental and Remedial Education, Student Retention and Success, Academic Planning, Curriculum Development, Experiential Learning, Career Services, Student Experience, Student Affairs, Adult Learners, Special Populations, Minority Students, Transfer Students, First Generation Students, Instructional Technology, Information Technology, Student Information Systems, Financial Aid, Enrollment Management

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Executive Summary

President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative placed community colleges at the forefront of the national campaign to increase higher education attainment. Countless organizations, political figures, and the philanthropic community have rallied behind the President’s call to action, attaching funds to student success and subjecting colleges with low graduation rates to harsh public scrutiny.

Despite the inherent unfairness of current graduation metrics, college leaders have embraced the completion agenda and are pioneering a cultural shift at their institutions, moving from a focus on open doors to a dual emphasis on student success and access. However, making gains in the face of unprecedented funding cuts requires that institutions selectively invest in completion strategies, devoting resources to only the most promising practices.

To assist members with this navigational challenge, the Education Advisory Board examined thousands of student success practices, assessing the impact of each practice on student attainment as well as its ease of implementation. This publication spotlights what we consider to be the highest-priority practices—strategies that improve completion through relatively low-cost policy changes, recalibration of existing resources, and/or initiatives that attract foundation funding and private donations.

Completion a National Imperative