NORFOLK, NE – The nation’s community colleges represent the best in American higher education. They are constantly innovating to increase access and success for the 12 million students they serve. Northeast Community College was among several community colleges that were honored for their work advancing access and success for students at the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Awards of Excellence Gala, part of AACC’s 98th Annual Convention in Dallas, TX, recently.
The end goal of every new program or initiative at a community college is to help students succeed. Northeast was one of six colleges recognized in the Student Success category for its five-year advising model that is transforming institutional culture. Student Success is one of six categories in the Awards of Excellence program.
Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, discussed the initiative with the College’s Board of Governors at its monthly meeting Thursday in Norfolk.
“The ‘Strengthening Student Advising Initiative’ was developed with the objective that if students receive more intentional and intrusive advising, then there should be a striking increase in student retention, persistence and completion,” he said. “This strategic initiative has been based, in part, on a comprehensive data analysis reflecting that students who enroll in our career and technical (CTE) programs were retained at 75-percent compared to 54-percent for liberal arts/transfer programs.”
Northeast’s retention figure of 75-percent is above the national average of 61-percent as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics.
In 2014, a cross-divisional team of Northeast administrators, faculty and staff developed a five-year advising action plan that includes three levels of advising support, including faculty mentoring, first year advising and retention support.
The initiative, jointly led by the Educational and Student Services divisions, has implemented a new vision and philosophy for advising; a college-wide advisor training program; a new advisor training program; a mandatory advising pilot system; utilization of a retention prediction score for early intervention; piloted cohort groups in high attrition programs; and the creation and execution of a First-Year Experience course.
“This is something truly innovative,” said Amanda Nipp, vice president of Student Services.
“Educational Services and Student Services decided to work together to figure out how we can take advising at Northeast to the next level. As we tried to understand the needs of one another, we understood that we all had a common goal in mind – working for student success.”
Beginning this fall, Northeast will begin the required advising program which will mean that every first year student will be involved in a team approach to advising - a first-year advisor and a faculty member.
Shelley Lammers, dean of Student Success, said good enough is not good enough for anymore.
“Even though there are hundreds of colleges out there that would love to have the completion and retention rates that we have at Northeast, we’re not satisfied with that because we know we can always do better. Our model truly takes a collaborative approach because we couldn’t have done this without the work of the faculty on the team, who told us what can work and what can’t work from a classroom perspective.”
Lammers said another college has already taken notice less than a month after she presented the model at the Higher Learning Commission Conference in Chicago. She said the college, which wants to do exactly what Northeast is implementing, already has a group registered for a conference with the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) – the same gathering where the Northeast model was initially developed.
“Taking great care of all of our students is the primary goal at Northeast Community College,” Chipps said. “In fact, the first two goals of the College’s five-year strategic plan, Vision 2020, focus on student success and student access. The advising system is positively affecting student outcomes and will provide each student with the best opportunity possible to be successful in meeting their educational goals.”
Chipps said this is Northeast’s innovation at its best.
“I highly commend our entire college community for being passionate about student success and specifically to Student Support Services who are commended for this esteemed recognition by the American Association of Community Colleges.”
Amanda Nipp, vice president of Student Services at Northeast Community College, displays an award the College received recently from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) at a meeting of the College Board of Governors Thursday in Norfolk. Northeast’s new first-year student advising model was recognized by AACC with one its national Student Success awards.