Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

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Learner Supports

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Examples

Learner Supports

Examples

Seamless Service Provision

One barrier facing learners who seek support is the very fact that so many offices are involved in providing these services or connecting students to them. The following institutions are working to break down these silos and provide streamlined delivery of holistic services:

Improving Access to Community Resources

  • Reynolds Community College in Virginia and Davidson-Davie Community College in North Carolina are committed to supporting their learners by offering comprehensive resources and services. Reynolds’ Student Support Services provides access to free and comprehensive social services and community resources including benefits screening, tax preparation assistance, health care enrollment guidance, financial education, and referrals to community resources.
  • Davidson-Davie’s Single Stop initiative serves as a resource hub, connecting learners with essential government benefits and local community resources. Services offered include: benefit screenings, application assistance, and ongoing support to help students gain access to services such as SNAP (Food Stamps), Medicaid, tax credits, child care support, and emergency utility services. Both colleges offer these services as a part of Single Stop, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income students overcome nonacademic barriers to college success.

Advisors Connecting Learners to Holistic Supports

  • Miami Dade College (MDC) and Florida International University (FIU) have partnered to create the Connect4Success (C4S) program which offers comprehensive services, including onboarding and an MDC Pre-College advisor who links learners to learning resources, student life, Single Stop, and mental health counseling and a wide range of co-curricular opportunities, workshops on career and transfer and the presence of an FIU Bridge Advisor at MDC campuses.

Encouraging Tutoring and Mentoring

  • The Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), a nationally recognized co-requisite model developed at Community College Baltimore County (CCBC), in which students are immediately enrolled in credit-bearing, college-level courses while receiving additional academic supports (tutoring, office hours, customized support services) to ensure their success.

Projects Serving Specialized Populations

Black Male Initiative

  • The Black Male Initiative at SUNY Empire State University (BMI) was created to address the lack in positive outcomes among Black male students. The mission is to assist members of the Black community by addressing and resolving the complex issues that confront and concern them. Support categories include counseling, academic support and professional development with a focus on creating a community of support, guidance and connection. Services include outreach to at-risk learners, coaching by peers and faculty, regular support group meetings, career counseling, networking opportunities with other students and alumni, panel discussions, and other events.

Veterans, Active Service Members and their Families

  • The U.S. Department of Education has laid out 8 Keys to Veterans’ Success which are steps postsecondary institutions can take to help veterans and service members transition into higher education, complete programs, and gain necessary career skills and competencies.
  • The Veteran and Military Resource Center at SUNY Empire State University coordinates services—including online academic, IT, and counseling assistance—to veterans, active-duty service members, reservists and National Guard members. Graduate fee waivers also are available, as are undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificate offerings targeted to meet the needs of military-affiliated learners.

Justice-Involved Learners

Learners Experiencing Homelessness

  • Florida State University's Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) provides comprehensive wraparound services for economically disadvantaged students through its Unconquered Scholars (US) Program. The US Program specifically supports FSU students who face housing and food insecurity because of experiences with foster care, homelessness, or as wards of the state. By collapsing traditional barriers to college admission and providing robust advising and financial assistance, the US Program aims to boost the academic and personal success of students at highest risk of dropping out.

Examples of National Networks and Projects

National networks provide additional support to colleges looking to strengthen their approaches to implementing learner supports. Some networks are long-standing, while others provide limited-time opportunities to collaborate and address problems that learners face.

  • The National College Transition Network (NCTN) is a national intermediary that views the college and career navigator as the key to leveraging and coordinating learner supports. The NCTN designs and facilitates customized professional development, produces curriculum and resources, and provides consultation to address gaps in student support services. The organization helps develop and implement programs and strategies to heighten learners’ aspirations. It also seeks to raise learners’ awareness of opportunities throughout all program phases—from enrollment and orientation to instruction, counseling, and planning for next steps.
  • The Student Success Center Network (SSCN) partners with nearly half of the nation’s community colleges to develop, implement, and scale student success strategies. Each of the 17 statewide Student Success Centers (SSC) works with community colleges in its state to increase student completion rates, close equity gaps, and strengthen communities. The SSC Network Coaching Toolbox features a variety of resources for Centers, colleges, and coaches to use in planning and implementing a coaching program, including equity strategies and training for coaches. Centers in California, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, and Texas are focusing on scaling specific strategies to aid learners facing basic-needs insecurity.
  • Advising Success Network is a national network convened by the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) and its five partners – Achieving the Dream, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, EDUCAUSE, NACADA, National Resource Center, for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition with a purpose of supporting educational change and improved student outcomes through a holistic approach to addressing the operation, programmatic, technological , and research needs of colleges and universities in direct support of a more equitable student experience. This is accomplished through conferences, research and a variety of tools are resources available through a robust website.
  • No Holding Back was an 18-month community of practice across 12 postsecondary institutions hosted by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). Its purpose was to explore the influence of administrative holds on student success. The project aimed to give institutions the necessary tools to assess—and potentially revise—their hold policies, with an ultimate goal of enhancing student success and using data effectively to shape policies.
  • Working Students Success Network (WSSN), an initiative of Achieving the Dream, focuses on working learners who are experiencing poverty, people of color, and others who are traditionally underserved in higher education. The network’s strategy is based on three pillars: employment and career advancement, income and work supports, and financial services and asset building. It advances institutional culture change centered on equity  and provides an integrated, holistic array of learner supports.

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Improving Education and Employment Outcomes