Indiana Wesleyan University recently chose to implement Aviso Retention as their Predictive Analytics and Artificial Intelligence partner. As Student Success and Retention continues to be an integral part and focus of the work of institutions nationwide, Indiana Wesleyan University continues to forge ahead as a thought leader. Congratulations Indiana Wesleyan Team: Ian Slater Nathan Herring! Congratulations Aviso Retention Team: Ty Diehl Sarah Hood MarKel Snyder!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming to Higher Ed and it is going to impact several areas of the university, especially student services. AI will not replace advisors, but it will require tapping into a different skill set. This is an exciting thing as I believe AI will allow advisors and student support staff to focus on what they love most – transforming students.
Academic Advisors and student support staff are, by nature, motivated to support others succeed. Unfortunately, when you combine student support staff’s increasing caseloads with cumbersome systems it is difficult to have consistent, transforming discussions. AI is helping solve this problem by taking the hundreds of data points that exist on campus and providing prescriptive insight into what a student requires to succeed.
While there are several emerging solutions that claim the use of Artificial Intelligence, if it is not allowing an advisor to purely focus on the core of why they are advising then it is not true AI for student services. Here are 5 things advisors, faculty and student support staff can look forward to when their institution adopts student service oriented artificial intelligence:
- Student Transformation
AI is no good if it does not provide an advisor with a legible prescription for each student derived from the success and challenges exhibited by your own students. This prescription should contain both factors that will lead to success as well as risk factors. The instantaneous insight into students allows an advisor to take a few precious minutes and focus on building strengths while mitigating obstacles. With vital student information seamlessly integrated within advising tools, the advisor simultaneously advises and transforms.
- Confronting Students
Another skill necessary in the age of AI in student services is the ability to confront damaging student behavior. It’s a vicious cycle in that some student behavior sabotages their success and eats away at confidence and eventually the student drops out. AI will illuminate these damaging behaviors and a skilled advisor will use the student success factors to build up their confidence to confront and overcome their obstacles (notice a theme here…). The skill of empowering a student when confronting these damaging behaviors is critical to keeping the student engaged.
- Adapting Quickly
It is challenging to be in the business of transforming many lives each day, but it is also what draws advisors to this important job. We are drowning advisors in student information, sometimes leading to paralysis by analysis. AI should show the right student information, no more and no less, so advisors can adapt quickly to each student engagement. This leads me to my next point…
- Remain in the Moment
Being present with a student involves active listening. Cumbersome systems, multitudes of data and jam-packed schedules inhibit active listening. True student transformation happens when an advisor is fully in the moment with their student focused on what will lead to success and building confidence to navigate through obstacles. An AI solution should largely eliminate these distractions so an advisor is able to remain in the moment with the student.
- Emotional Intelligence
An important trait of an advisor is the ability to read and interpret student emotions. Emotional intelligence as a skill goes beyond this and a big ingredient is regulation of their own emotions. Our students live busy, chaotic lives and the ability of the advisor to support a student emotionally while also regulating their own is going to be essential to impacting more students each day.
Artificial Intelligence is not an evolution for student services – it’s a revolution. It is time to embrace and practice these essential advisor traits that certainly existed previously but were not as prominent. AI is going to create an ecosystem where advisors flourish doing what they love to do – this can only have incredible impact on their students.
Aviso Retention provides Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics to increase student success and retention. Click here to learn more.
When you think about student attrition, is it ever in the context of graduate school?
Probably not, but you should. Undergrad retention rates hover around 50% and the same goes for masters and doctoral students.
Colleges and Universities are more focused on their undergraduate attrition than what is happening in their graduate programs. I had the fortunate circumstance of attending the Annual Meeting for the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in early March (which, by the way, is a fantastic group of people) where I had conversations with several Deans of graduate programs spread from Maryland to Texas. The conversations were overwhelmingly similar. Each one sharing they would love to have a retention solution similar to what their undegraduate counterpart currently has, but they don’t have the student numbers in their grad program to justify the cost.
Let’s pause and think about this for a minute. One particular institution comes to mind that has 20,000 undergrads and 4,000 graduate students. If this institution is experiencing an overall attrition rate of 20% annually for both programs, then they are looking at losing 4000 undergrad and 800 graduate students. Seems to make sense to focus on the larger number, but losing 800 graduate students results in a $7.2m loss in tuition revenue for this particular institution.
Through my discussions, the predominant reasons I am hearing their institutions are not investing in a retention solution are:
- Less Return on Investment when compared to undergrad
- An assumption that students who leave cannot handle the academic rigor, so we should allow for this natural attrition
- An assumption that some students leave because they’ve chosen a different career direction, which usually involves gainful full time employment
Let’s break these down…
Less Return on Investment when compared to undergrad
It’s hard to find numbers on loss in tuition revenue for graduate programs. An Educational Policy Institute report shows a loss in tuition revenue for undergrad at $16.5B, so I’m guessing if graduate programs are experiencing a 50% attrition rate the financial loss there is still a staggering number. The institution mentioned above would see an increase in tuition revenue of $0.5M with a 7% increase in retention. An affordable solution would provide very strong return on investment.
An assumption that students who leave cannot handle the academic rigor, so we should allow for this natural attrition
A strong admissions department should be filtering out students who will struggle. Of course, the expectation is rarely 100% retention and certainly a small population of students may struggle academically. Most students admitted to graduate programs can meet and exceed the academic requirements, but life gets in the way. When priorities shift and life intervenes, the performance drops. It’s easy to point the finger at performance, but is that the true reason a student leaves their graduate program? Identify these dips in performance quickly and then engage to uncover the real issue.
An assumption that some students leave because they’ve chosen a different career direction, which usually involves gainful employment
Students who drop of out graduate school are likely pulled away by life situations. Families, health, career, finances, debt and self-confidence are key factors. The latter factor there, self-confidence, is important to pay attention to. In Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence, she talks about the high number of people admitted to prestigious academic programs who experience imposter syndrome, which is basically a consistent feeling that they must have fooled the admissions folks to gain acceptance into their program. She experienced the same thing herself as a grad student at Princeton, now she’s a best-selling author doing ground-breaking research in how people judge and influence each other. My point here is that these are obstacles that graduate students can overcome.
There is an answer… a practical and affordable retention solution can support the right students to persist to graduation. A system that bolsters the work our professional and faculty advisors are doing to support students. Being able to find and engage students who are at-risk is advantageous, but so is having a system that automatically recognizes key accomplishments and benchmarks. The return on investing in a solution can add significant tuition revenue. More important, it’s difficult to put a monetary value on the impact to the university and future of the student, as well.
I have to share that this topic is close to my heart. I almost left graduate school myself. I realized early on in my clinical psychology program that I was not interested in being a therapist. Furthermore, I was presented with a fantastic job offer that would have been hard to refuse. A faculty mentor showed me the value of finishing my program. Looking back, I made exactly the right decision.
Aviso Retention provides analytics, software and expertise to increase student retention and engagement. Click here to learn more.
Ready or not, the holiday season is here. However, if your anything like me, you ensure Thanksgiving is given its due respect and fight the urge to put up your Christmas tree until that Friday! While I am a sucker for a good Hallmark movie and holiday tune, those pumpkins are staying out on my doorstep until Thanksgiving has passed.
While we enjoy the parties, food and family, this season can also leave us needing a vacation from our vacation! Lots of travel, family obligations, and making sure that we are not over indulging as New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner. In addition to this chaos, there is often a financial burden that comes with holiday gift giving and making sure that we purchase the latest electronics or Hatchimals. If you don’t know what that is…trust me, you are better for it.
With all of these moving parts, it can be hard to concentrate on the work before us. The end of the term is wrapping up, our grades are due and in order to feel like we can comfortably walk away for a few days, the last-minute details of projects that we have been working on, must get done. While we understand that this time of year can be stressful for ourselves and colleagues, it is important to remember, it can also be overwhelming for the students we serve.
For many of them, the holiday season means picking up a few shifts or working doubles to make sure they can provide for their families while continuing to try and keep up with their school work. Winter weather, health, and finances, just to name a few can suddenly become huge boulders preventing our students from moving forward. If you ask any success coach, academic advisor or faculty member, over half of their job is talking with students about matters outside of the classroom. Life hits hard and fast for all of us, yet for many of our students, taking refuge in our offices, even just for a few moments can be the peace they need to finish strong.
These moments make the difference in our retention rates, and heck they are nice for us too. Whether we are sharing stories about crazy shopping trips or burnt turkeys, these conversations with our students allow them to connect with us beyond the classroom. Student success often depends so much more on these transformational exchanges then making sure everyone is registered on time. Now registering on time is critical, yet if we don’t understand life outside the classroom, we are very likely to struggle helping our students inside of it. Simply sharing our anxieties of how to manage our time and get our kiddos to every holiday concert, can help our students feel less alone and a part of a family outside of their own. Coaching our students to finish strong, not freak out and take one step at a time can not only serve as good reminders for us, but also frankly guide them to graduation.
So, cheers to the holidays, our students and the few extra cookies that are waiting for us in the break room.
If you work in Higher Education, it is fairly plausible you have attended a conference (or considered doing so) in the past few weeks. It seems that “conference season” generally happens between the months of September and November. While there are a few outliers in April and others, a vast majority of sessions happen in this time period.
If your anything like me, conferences can be a bit overwhelming. An endless amount of ideas, and practices are shared. Some you hear and think “yes, we could absolutely mimic that on our campus!” Others seem a far cry of what is plausible considering the resources available. So much information can often paralyze us with indecision. Where do I start? How can I even try this?
When arriving to the conference and hearing the different ideas and fellow campus success stories, we get excited about where our team can go with retention, graduation and student success. Stories of how campuses have created and fostered growth, persistence and graduation rates are encouraging. We are re-charged and refocused, heading back to our perspective campuses ready to tackle the next student crisis with a renewed sense of purpose! The weeks that follow conferences are also met with the same road blocks, lack of budgets and students who just don’t seem to share our passion for their success.
I received great direction from a former Vice President of Student Services I once worked for. She simply said, at the end of each day and the conference in general, write down all your thoughts and everything you have learned. Make a list of 10 actionable items, reviewing the list a few times and narrowing that same list down to three initiatives. Once those three items have been identified, bring those items to me (or a supervisor) and we can develop a plan together in an effort to implement those on campus. This was huge. This did 2 things. Provided a plan of attack for the influx of information and prevented me from getting so overwhelmed and simply doing nothing at all!
This process is also true for the students that we serve. Its exciting to talk about graduation and career plans with students. They get excited too, thinking of all the possibilities ahead of them! However, this is quickly followed by all the work that goes into obtaining a degree or certification and that can be overwhelming.
Similar to the coaching my former Vice President gave to me, it’s critical we acknowledge our students go through this same process. Intrusively advising them through the work that is ahead and how to effectively plan and succeed is critical to their persistence. College and all that encompasses the process is exciting, yet overwhelming. However, if a student has a success coach, academic adviser or faculty member who is able to assist them in breaking down the process into manageable milestones, graduation will inherently follow. Accomplishing a test, class, term and year is a huge success in itself for many of our students. Let’s celebrate and appreciate those milestones and prevent them from feeling the overwhelming thought of the journey ahead.
This past weekend I ran a ½ marathon. This was not my first and I hope will not be my last as my results were less then desirable. I had made a promise to myself that I would run at least one ½ marathon a year, not because I particularly like race day, but training for these races will keep me in somewhat good-ish shape…I tell myself this anyway. All to say, I had trained for this race and was excited for what was ahead. That morning, came with little anxiety however, as I did not have a running buddy therefore was relying on a carefully picked play list to carry me through. I had also made the decision not to drive the course before-hand, so as to not psych myself out. This would later prove to be one mistake of many that I would make.
So feeling all the feels, I made my second poor decision. Not wanting to run alone, I decided at the last minute to join a pace group. Pace groups are those that are led by wonderful volunteers to ensure you are running at a specific pace so that you might achieve a certain race time. I chose a group that was running at a faster pace than I have ever run a ½ marathon, not by much (I’m not that crazy), but about 40 seconds faster per mile. This may not seem too bad….but at mile 10, it feels like A LOT.
So fast forward and the race begins. I am doing ok with the pace group. Thoughts of “oh man, this is it? I can totally do this”, race through my head. I quickly make friends with the pacers and fellow racers in the group. We each have different stories and very different physical builds, but all share the same goal. As the race continued, I started to feel the fatigue of running faster than I had ever trained for. I also learned this particular course had the most/steepest hills of any race the area had to offer. I could feel every single one. At mile 10, I made the last bad decision that would prove to be detrimental to my race efforts. I over-hydrated. I’ll spare you the details of what comes next. All to say, I quickly found myself far behind the pace group and very alone. I needed to mentally tough it out. I was not in good shape and quickly loosing spirit. The last 2 miles felt as if I was starting from the beginning. Hill after hill, I decided that in order to survive I needed to take a run/walk approach, walking up the last few hills. The mental games were at an all-time high. Then just at the right moment, one of the pacers that I had run with during the first 10 miles, came back on the course to get me. She stayed by my side encouraging me to keep moving forward. This was amazing. Intervention happened when I felt as if I would rather be carted off the course then take one more step. She came to get me at the perfect time and while I am certain she probably doesn’t even know my name, that doesn’t matter. She provided what I needed most. Not water or time checks but just encouragement.
We are at that time in the school year where our students may be starting to lose their excitement for classes and their collegiate journey. The initial “I got this!” has been met with a few less than perfect test scores. The fatigue of everything happening outside of classes is starting to take its toll. Students thought they knew what going to school would take and prepared for the year, yet life circumstances and possibly a few errors in judgment are starting to catch up with them.
This can be hard, student success is what we care about most, but unlike the volunteer that came back for me, she was encouraging one person, while we are trying to encourage hundreds. Not every student will show the need for early intervention, or encouragement. It may simply look like a skipped class, missed appointment or overall lack of engagement. So how do we even attempt to catch all of these behaviors when our caseloads are overwhelming on their own? Its simple. We cant. Not well, anyway. Early intervention, encouragements and alerts only work if staff is working together. A faculty member can record a missed class or lack of engagement, a success coach can record a missed meeting and a financial aid representative can become aware of financial hardship, but unless all of this information is coming together, it becomes very difficult to fully understand how to best serve our students or intervene before it is too late.
A student’s collegiate experience is a marathon not a sprint. Road blocks come in many forms and it can be hard for a success coach or faculty member to manage each student’s hurdles. Yet when we intervene and offer encouragement or work through solutions with our students at the right time, the results can not only affect our overall retention but can be life-changing for the students that we work with.
As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change. While this continues to be true, we can also appreciate when things stay the same. As long as those “things” are adding to our lives in a positive way. When change does happen, it is often given a title that typically has “re” at the beginning. Essentially, we are revisiting the way we have once done something and changing it.
With this in mind the main focus of our team at Aviso Coaching continues to be the success of our partner institutions. This will remain the same, as we lead college and universities through renewing their team’s energy, refocusing their efforts into a unified early alert software system and revitalizing student success and degree completion on their campus. We encourage campuses to change daily, even in the smallest ways to best meet the needs of their student populations. Sometimes these are easy changes, while others take time and effort to incorporate. All the while we ensure each team is fully supported. This is our story. We are passionate about student success and retention and remain firmly focused on these initiatives.
So while our team continues to support and encourage our partnering campuses to adjust when needed, we must do the same. Therefore, we have decided to move forward with a few key modifications.
First, we wanted to make sure we were telling our story in a way that portrayed who we are and where Aviso is going. Therefore, Aviso Coaching is now Aviso Retention. Why? We have grown quite a bit in the last few years, but the laser focus on retention, student success and degree completion remains the same. We feel that Aviso Retention better captures the overall impact of our solution and the value of our partnership.
Second, while we encourage our partnering campuses to stay on the forefront of innovation and student retention, we as the Aviso team need to do the same. Therefore, we have revitalized our logo to reflect this forward movement. The transition has already begun and will continue throughout the next few months.
The success of our partners and the students they serve continues to be our priority. We are thrilled to be transitioning to Aviso Retention and excited for the years to come. Cheers to continued quality and exciting innovation!
Please take time to check out our new website: Avisoretention.com
Contact Us to learn more about our student centered retention initiatives!
It’s July. This month, along with BBQ’s and family trips, can often be a great time for college and university administrators to reflect, regroup and implement changes within campus structures. When addressing the implementation of changes, countless books, webinars and strategies have been developed to help ensure success. While the suggestions leading to success can be different, one thing we do know is change is hard and without a unified effort, any implementation will be sure to fail. While change management is important, one piece that can often be ignored is the campus culture leading up to it.
When thinking about change management, it is critical that college and university administrators remain cognizant of the various intricacies and consider every possible stake holder in their action research. However, even when implementing the smallest of processes, if the campus culture leading up to the transition isn’t healthy, any measure of change management will be very difficult to maintain.
Changing campus culture can hurt. Maintaining a healthy student-centered college or university can bring about challenges. It requires sacrifice, a strong sense of humility and an active presence with faculty and staff. Consider this… when trying a new work-out or exercise routine, maybe even coming back to one that you had mastered a few years prior, it can leave you a bit sore. What seemed great at first now feels like a self-inflicted wound that simply won’t heal. Mid-workout thoughts of “Why am I doing this?” or “Am I really paying money to feel like this?” scream through our minds as we count down the minutes until the workout is complete. Change is hard. In an effort to change your current situation, you merely exercise and while it sounds simple, because we all appreciate when A + B = C, there are factors surrounding this simple equation that can muddy the waters.
Now take this into account. What is the culture of your current living situation? Do your family members actively exercise? Is it relatively normal for you to eat out a few times a week but still choose the healthiest options on the menu? Do you work so much that finding the time to go to the gym or even for a walk seems impossible? Have you established a culture that would make it really difficult to ensure a successful change? Change is hard, but culture hurts!
When looking at culture from a campus perspective, this is also vital. From the onset of hiring a new success coach or faculty member, are we ensuring that this person is receptive to the college or university culture we are constructing? This also needs to be paired with a little (really – a lot) of self-reflection. Does our student success team feel like they have a voice? Do success coaches and faculty members feel ownership of our campus and their position? Are they being heard? This is where the “hurt” can really gain momentum. Change is great, tough, imperative and exciting. Yet if we have not developed a campus culture that is strong enough to withstand the “hard” part of any change, inevitably we hurt student success and retention.
The tone of any campus culture starts with the institution’s administration. While it’s great when a simple equation works, higher education can be one big gray area. With this in mind, we can avoid the “hurt” if we establish a culture that can move through the “hard” part of any change. That is when we are sure to have a pathway to success.
References to “data rich, information poor” (DRIP) syndrome are ubiquitous; a quick Google search returns articles addressing DRIP in numerous disciplines including education, health care, and water quality management. Organizations suffering from DRIP find themselves awash in data—quantifiable facts and statistics—but lacking information—knowledge obtained through analysis of these data.
Universities and colleges are avoiding DRIP by employing data management procedures that result in consumable, aggregated information. These activities may be the responsibility of an internal office, contracted to an external group, or, as I have found useful, assigned to a mix of both internal and external data professionals.
Following the distillation of relevant information through data analytics, institutions must avoid the next hurdle: “data rich, abundant information, non-action” (DRAIN) syndrome. DRAIN occurs when information lies dormant. This syndrome may be the result of a lack of institutional resources to take on a new project, the inability to navigate institutional silos to prompt action, or poor cross-divisional communication channels for sharing information.
A signal that DRAIN is present is the utterance of the phrase “OK, so what?” or “Interesting” after a quick scan of a report. For example, insights about the success factors for student sub-populations are bundled into reports, shared across departments, viewed with mild curiosity, and then filed away without prompting action.
DRAIN is akin to and sometimes accompanied by “paralysis by analysis.” In this situation, the constant quest for the “perfect data point” stymies any project built on the available information. “If we only knew . . .” has halted action and constricted development of relevant programs many times over.
The best remedy for DRAIN is to prepare a plan to leverage information derived from large data sets. The following steps will assist in developing these types of procedures, and discussion on each step will be addressed in future blog posts on DRAIN.
- Determine if the information is actionable
- Decide how to employ the information
- Pilot programs or outreach
- Measure the effectiveness of the program
- Revise, expand, or retire the program
About the Author:
Nathan Miller, Ph.D. is the Senior Director for Student Success at Columbia College in Columbia, MO. In this role he is responsible for the design, implementation of student success programming for a diverse and geographically disparate student population.
After 30 years, a few of those years belaboring the decision, I decided to move from very blonde to very brown hair (my natural color). Now if you are reading this and immediately got annoyed, I promise this post has a valid objective. Keep reading. While a part of me feels like I have somehow found myself in a witness protection program, what I am most surprised about, is how “hair” has guided a part of my identity, that now feels lost in translation. Well that’s foolish, you say. Hear me out.
The social dynamic of the change in color has been fascinating. I work in a shared space with other companies. While there are often exchanges of “Good Morning” or a quick smirk on the way to our designated spaces, that is really where the communication ends. Now, cue hair change. It is 10:00am. I have been at my desk for a little over 2 hours. The count is currently, seven. Seven people that I have only exchanged “hello smiles” with have now directly addressed me. The comments are ranging in niceties, but so far have been positive. (Who knows what they are actually thinking. I like to think it is all wonderful and gracious mental rhetoric, or even WOW, Stunning!) However, what I do find interesting is the very outward, noticeable change of the color of someone’s hair has created the opportunity or ability for individuals who may not have, engage with me (or about me for that matter). All seven of these professionals, I have never interacted with before. Even more interesting, I still do not know the names of at least four of them. While I am happy to meet new people, and engage (Be mindful, that is really the essential function of my job), I am also aware that they really don’t seem to mind what my name is, or what I do, but rather hair… only hair. I am also not offended by this at all. I am just surprise that anyone outside my immediate teammates even noticed. It is a big change, yet I am relatively new to this particular office setting. I suppose I wasn’t even sure that anyone outside of my particular office mates knew that I existed.
When thinking about a college setting, students often feel this same dynamic. Should Suzy Student decide to change a physical attribute, or simply looks tired, sad, or lost, do we notice? Do we engage or do we pretend to not see her, for fear of getting caught in what may be a loathsome conversation? While Suzy may or may not appreciate the acknowledgment of the difference or change in her demeanor, she will acquire a sense of satisfaction that she is not invisible. This sense of individualism has been a catalyst to many institutional tag lines. “Large School, Individual Attention”. We as educational professionals realize how these interactions are indicative to the ultimate success of college students. Acknowledging life in and out of the classroom is critical to our core competences and vital to retention efforts. However, with so many faces, so many names and often times so many physical differences, it can be almost impossible to catch everyone’s everything.
Now cue the campus advising and success coaching team. When applying for these positions, the job description should be just that. Success Coach A will be expected to know everyone’s everything. This however, is not limited to students, but faculty and staff as well. You will also need to be extremely proficient in putting out the proverbial fire at a moment’s notice. Finally, Good Luck! Small print: Your reports are due every week at 5, but we may ask for these numbers 10 times leading up to Friday, depending on who happens to ask for them.
Maneuvering through this dynamic is what a success coach does best. They thrive in it, actually. Hats off to you. Your work is noticed, acknowledged and you are not invisible, especially if you decide to change your hair color. Now get back to work, you have an unexpected team meeting in 5 minutes and your numbers need to be ready…ohhh and Suzy Student is waiting for you in your office. What does she want? She didn’t tell me, she only wants to talk you.