Organizers for Texas A&M University’s Student Success Initiative heard updates Monday on a task-force’s recommendations to help students in several broad but crucial concern areas.
Members said key objectives of the Student Success Initiative deal with student retention, students graduating on time and aiding students however possible to help them earn their degrees.
Created in June by the Office of the Provost, the Student Success Initiative aims to retain more students, increase four- and six-year graduation rates and decrease disparities. It has created the following goals established for first-time college freshmen entering in fall 2019:
- Increase first year retention from 92 percent of the fall 2019 entering freshmen class to 95 percent
- Increase four year graduation rates from 54 percent to 65 percent
- Increase six year graduation rates from 82 percent to 85 percent
Team members said that Texas A&M has fallen behind the AAU (Association of American Universities) and also the University of Texas at Austin in almost every key area that determines overall student success.
Regarding student retention, the group’s findings show that of all students who leave Texas A&M after one year, 42 percent said they did so because they felt “no connection” to the school and they left because they felt like they “did not belong at the university.”
Also, 41 percent said they had to leave because student financial aid support was not enough for them to remain in school.
The task force members identified several areas that need to be addressed:
- Too many programs that help students are only voluntary
- There is no uniform method to monitor at-risk students
- There are varying degrees of engaging students in success programs
- Some strategies appear to be uncoordinated
About $12 million is currently aimed at student success programs, but members said that funding amount needs to be upgraded substantially for student success goals to be achieved.
“It is also important that we somehow celebrate more first-generation students – students who are the first in their family to go to college,” said Joe Pettibon, vice president for enrollment and academic services.
He said the Regents Scholars Program is a much-needed resource for first-generation students as it provides up to $5,000 in additional financial aid on top of any aid a student might also be provided.
Regarding at-risk students, members said they are generally in three distinct groups: academically at-risk, financially at-risk and socially at-risk. All three groups need additional assistance and resources, the task force said.
Members also strongly suggested a “Graduation Help Desk” be created to assist students in earning their degrees and graduating on time.
“Helping our students to become successful is the most important goal we have,” the team said, “and students are why we are all here. We need to change our culture from being institutionally-centered to being student-centered.”
Media contact: Keith Randall at (979) 845-4644 or email@example.com.