Propelling college students to their full potential

Models of Excellence honorees run gamut from app development to foster students

Helping all students reach their full academic and professional potential lies at the heart of several the initiatives honored as this summer’s Models of Excellence.

An “App Factory” at a regional state university turned its paid interns into hot business commodities who have been hired quickly after graduation. In the year-round program, students train their classmates to develop mobile apps and web tools for community clients that have so far ranged from businesses to museums to radio stations, among others.

While many success programs focus on low-performers and high-achievers, another regional state university realized students in the “middle” would see big benefits from some additional supports.

The school’s first-year retention program encourages closer connections between faculty and students. It also offers students $150 grants to make up credits during the summer to ensure they don’t lose critical financial aid.

Grants are supporting technology projects at a state university that has latched onto the venture capital to promote student success. Just this past school year, the competitive grants were used to upgrade a language center computer lab and to develop advanced GPS technology for the geography department, among other projects.

Another institution found students would be more eager to enroll if they received immediate information regarding transfer credits. The school’s app not only notifies students of which credits will be accepted, but also uses that data to tell them how long it will take them to complete their degree and what it will cost.

And the knowledge that certain groups require special support drove an urban university to launch a program designed to assist high school students aging out of foster care. Only about half the children who have been in foster care attend college, and just 10 percent of them ever earn degrees.

The program offers mentoring and financial guidance to prospective students who, once enrolled, receive a laptop, free housing, a work-study job and financial assistance for tuition and books. Academic supports include tutoring, peer coaching and professional mentoring.

Ultimately, The nine schools recognized as Summer 2016 Models of Excellence have found that innovation leads to innovation when it comes to student success. Administrators who find new opportunities to provide support encourage students to be creative in making the most of a higher education.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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