Before Students Even Arrive, What Goes in to Student Success?

James Cousins | Senior Statistical Analyst

Formerly being a college student, formerly working to help college students, and currently working to help others to help college students, student success initiatives make me happy. I love hearing about ways that colleges are ensuring students receive all the benefits a college education can offer! So this article in the Chronicle reminded me of all the intangibles that go into the process of improving student outcomes. The article may not be viewable to all, so I wanted to summarize, and spread the great story!

For those in campus life, “Space Utilization” might be as constant a question as the morning coffee. But I did not realize how thoroughly some colleges turn to their facilities to drive student success (among other benefits). Obviously, the library needs books, and the cafeteria needs food. But apparently, the University of Delaware, Goucher, and many others (I am certain) are exploring the ways student dorms impact their campus engagement. A lot of time. energy, and money is going into designing spaces that encourage students to foster connections between each other, and develop relationships that help them retain. And they’re doing it in data-driven ways.

Campus Life offices at colleges across the nation keep track of space utilization, but Delaware and Goucher, it seems, are starting to use that data to determine what kinds of living spaces work best to encourage student community building! Personally, this got me thinking about incorporating plenty of new variables into student success models- fortunately, that shouldn’t be a problem with Analytics.

It’s not clear how this will impact the student experience, but it’s amazing to see so much attention paid to the student experience- as UNCG’s Jeffrey Collis once stated, “The best predictor of student success is the stuff we’re not tracking.” The closer we get to informing our models with the more human factors of a student’s career, the better the models can serve institutions and their students.

What’s your favorite intangible influencer of student success? Do you think that the student residence experience can be quantified for use in models? Is your campus doing anything like this? Let us know!

*Photo Credit: Breather

James Cousins

James Cousins

Senior Statistical Analyst

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