Many community college students face academic and personal challenges that prevent them from success in the classroom and may stand in the way of their completing a degree.
There’s a growing recognition nationally that students – both in community colleges and four-year institutions – need additional supports to help them persist in school and graduate. Providing holistic student supports requires that institutions become student-ready by integrating and enhancing myriad support services into a seamless, timely, and personal experience for every student.
In Summer 2018, Achieving the Dream released guidance on how to strengthen state policies that can boost the impact of college-level practices focused on increasing student success. Based on ATD’s experience with the Working Students Success Network (WSSN) and distributed at Jobs for the Future’s semi-annual convening of policy experts, Integrated Student Support Services: State Policy Considerations underscores the importance of supportive state policies on postsecondary budgets, access to financial aid, eligibility for child care subsidies, and transportation and housing assistance. In the fall, ATD launched our holistic student supports approach nationwide, including intensive in-person coaching for 11 colleges, virtual coaching for colleges in two states, and in-person institutes for colleges in four states.
Our second annual ATD Holistic Student Supports Institute brought more than 320 colleagues to St. Louis to participate in a four-day intensive working institute designed to support teams in examining student movement through their institution and executing a coherent strategy for designing a student support model that supports the whole student. At the HSS Institute we launched the new HSS Toolkit, which provides evidence-based, practitioner tested tools, tips, and guides that help an institution from initial exploration of their needs through to successful evaluation and refinement.
The Institute was structured to help attendees develop a vision of holistic supports on their campuses, determine goals and action steps, and identify ways to engage college stakeholders in efforts to put holistic student supports in place. With guidance from trained Institute facilitators, including ATD staff, coaches, college peers, and other experts, the colleges began working to make navigating college less formidable, especially for students facing financial instability and other obstacles to completion. ATD’s holistic student supports approach aims to break down the barrier between academic and nonacademic supports to provide a seamless, high quality, and personalized experience that supports every student’s academic and basic needs to ensure that more students, particularly students of color and low-income students, can achieve their goals.