Community colleges need to create holistic student supports to serve their increasingly diverse student populations, according to a series of briefs released by Achieving the Dream.
The holistic student supports approach requires colleges to tie support services into a "seamless, timely and personal experience for every student," according to the nonprofit group. It includes comprehensive advising, scalable case management models, a change leadership framework and assessment using technology to improve these strategies as time goes on.
The four briefs highlight several issues, including how to move students from high schools to colleges, how to serve student mothers and how to serve part-time students.
Achieving the Dream, a network of 277 community colleges focused on improving the success of low-income students and students of color, is hosting its annual conference next week. The organization plans to host weekly webinars focused on each brief throughout March, according to a news release.
The briefs include specific examples of nontraditional students and how their colleges served them well, as well as suggestions for what colleges should implement to serve students better.
They encourage colleges to know their students, create a sense of community, provide the proper supports and focus on populations that are often ignored, such as part-time students. For example, the brief on student mothers recommends colleges identify the population in a consistent way, build systems to connect those students with services and create pathways toward jobs that provide economic stability, while providing anecdotes of how some colleges are serving student mothers now.