How to Better Support Students on Their Road to College Success

Published mar. 31, 2014

Persistence and completion are major topics in the community college world these days. The upcoming AACC Annual Convention, for example, has numerous sessions dedicated to advancing college completion and promoting student success. At Jobs for the Future, we recognize that support services play a critical role in student persistence and completion, and as such, many of our initiatives focus on building out comprehensive, coordinated support systems.

Our recent publication, Promoting Persistence Through Comprehensive Supports, examines what it means for a college to think systemically about student supports. We look at what the research says about best practices and provide a framework for understanding the components of a comprehensive model. We also share what two colleges—North Shore Community College in Massachusetts and Owensboro Community and Technical College in Kentucky—are doing to coordinate the provision of student supports across the college. This paper was developed to support the 84 colleges currently participating in Accelerating Opportunity, but the topic is relevant to any college or program working with underprepared learners.

So what can colleges do to better support their students? Based on our research and interviews with leading colleges, we make the following recommendations. Read the paper to learn more!

  • Provide a comprehensive set of supports for underprepared and nontraditional students. This includes academic supports (tutoring and advising), nonacademic supports (such as college success courses), career guidance, financial services (such as financial literacy or access to benefits), and social services/counseling.
  • Develop partnerships to complement college support resources.
  • Coordinate the provision of support service offerings among college departments and external partners.
  • Communicate the availability of support services to students and faculty.
  • Reduce barriers to student access to services—for example, make sure that students attending evening classes have access to supports as well.
  • Keep in mind the value of relationships in supporting students.
  • Work to ensure adequate resources for support service provision.

Photograph copyright 2008 David Binder, Tulalip Heritage Early College