St. Petersburg College is one of 17 colleges nationwide to be honored by University Business magazine in its Winter 2015 Models of Excellence recognition program. Sponsored by Higher One, a leading provider of financial services to U.S. colleges, the Models of Excellence program recognizes innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus.
“St. Petersburg College’s use of real-time data, through its College Experience initiative, to boost student achievement is very impressive,” said University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “Including the entire college community in these efforts to help students succeed has clearly made a positive impact.”
St. Petersburg College initiated the College Experience in 2012 as a way to increase the percentage of students who successfully complete core, or gateway, courses. A review of the college’s records at that time revealed that only two-thirds of the student body was earning a grade or C or better in those courses; the remaining third received a D or F. Among African-American and Latino males, the percentage was even lower, said Tonjua Williams, senior vice president for student services at St. Petersburg College.
Committed to improving student success, St. Petersburg identified five key areas known to impact success rates and incorporated them into the College Experience:
- Out-of-class academic support
- Integrated career and academic advising
- Early alerts to assist struggling students
- A custom learning plan
- New student orientation called “Smart Start.”
Once the College Experience launched, campus leaders, advising and learning resources staff, faculty, and academic leaders began tracking student movement and actions like career decisions, class attendance, levels of engagement, tutoring sessions, meetings with faculty, and other appointments. Using the college’s Pulse Business Intelligence system, officials and employees analyze and report on the data each week to review student performance and strategize how to take action where needed. These measures provide early observation of how students are progressing and allow college personnel to intervene early on, and make adjustments in student success efforts.
“We regroup each week to review leading measures in all five initiatives,” Williams said. “Sharing the data each week allows staff to work together to connect the dots for student success.”
In the first two years of the program, overall success rates rose more than 5 percent, Williams said.
“Our College Experience initiative at St. Petersburg College continues to garner notice nationally, and I am exceptionally proud of the hard work our staff has invested to help students succeed,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This honor builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly so they can find gainful employment and boost their earnings. We know these systematic steps change students’ lives and benefit our community in countless ways.”
“These honorees demonstrate insight into their student populations, as well as the ability to innovate in creative ways,” said Andrew Crawford, senior vice president of campus services & operations at Higher One. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”
Launched in 2015, Models of Excellence is a national recognition program honoring colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and inter-departmental initiatives that are bolstering student success. The program is sponsored by Higher One, which provides financial aid refund services to SPC students.