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Harper College: 10,604 Additional Degrees by 2020

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Harper College logoFive years ago, Harper College started looking at their track record of graduating students and determined that they could do better.  Harper joined the Achieve the Dream movement, a non-governmental movement targeting student success at the community college level.  As part of the program, President Obama challenged community colleges to produce five million more completions by 2020.  In support of this national initiative, Harper College determined they proportionally needed to provide 10,604 additional degrees and certificates by 2020, an aggressive goal requiring a strategy shift on how the college was helping students succeed.

This led to a college wide initiative called Project Discover. This five year plan has four key programs focused on improving student graduation rates and success:

  1. Predictive analytics and data warehousing to increase student retention
  2. Upgrading the student portal to increase engagement
  3. Creating a first year seminar about how to be successful in college
  4. A personalized “map” that guides each student on a personalized journey for their chosen career path

Last week at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) conference in Austin, TX, Sheila Quirk, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness and Patrick Bauer, Chief Information Officer, both of Harper College, shared their initial results of a proof of concept program using a student retention model designed with Dell. The program is centered on helping Harper improve their student graduation rates. Sheila pointed out at the beginning of the session, “It doesn’t matter how many students you enroll if no one is coming out the back end.”  Harper has shifted from focusing on enrollments to graduating students and effectively preparing them for the workforce.

Students standing in a hallwayHarper has an open admissions policy where students enter with a wide range of academic preparedness for college. One of the key programs in Project Discover is using analytics and predictive modeling to develop a framework to assess student readiness. Harper worked with Dell to build a student retention model that pulled disparate data sources together to provide a reporting framework. This proof of concept provides counselors with all of the student information necessary to provide students with the information, guidance and resources they need to complete their program. The student framework has the following objectives:

  • Identify high risk students
  • Determine how visit so the tutoring center can impact GPA
  • Use findings to implement programs that increase graduation rates

The initial findings have already had an impact on student retention and program completion.  The Dell Student Retention Model has showed strength in predicting success at the 15 hour completion mark along with quantifiable and measurable intervention methods to help improve student outcomes.  The model has also performed well at the 30 hour mark. Harper is now seeking to expand the pilot to get a deeper understanding of how matriculation affects students and how to provide support sooner to keep students on track to graduation.

Click here to read the full whitepaper and to learn more the next phase of the model. 

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