Christian Higher Education Since 1892

Putting Student Success Under the Microscope

Putting Student Success Under the Microscope

Putting Student Success Under the Microscope

Like a lot of people, Ben Myette met his future spouse at college. "Unlike most people," he recalls with a chuckle, "I met my wife at the beginning of my third freshman year."

Myette eventually overcame his freshman struggles and graduated. According to a report last year from the American Institute for Research, however, many college students do not fare as well as Myette. Today's colleges and universities only graduate slightly more than half of the students that walk through their doors. In an effort to accelerate student success, Greenville College has launched an initiative to examine new students' experiences. The national higher education project known as "Foundations of Excellence®" sponsored by the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education combines nearly a decade of work with over 300 institutions to develop model standards for new students.

"We have paid careful attention to helping first-year students thrive at Greenville College for decades," said Acting President Randy Bergen. "However, because college costs now strain the resources of most students and their families, we want to do everything we can to ensure that students complete their first year successfully and go on to graduate. For that reason, we are redoubling our efforts to help students succeed."

Greenville's proactive approach to serving students is especially important in today's economic climate. The national balance of student loan debt now exceeds that of credit cards and car loans according to a March report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. With added focus on student success, Greenville College can put students on a path toward financial security. "This self-study will help us identify areas where we succeed in helping students achieve their goals and areas where we can improve," said Marcos Gilmore, co-chair of the Foundations initiative and dean of student success. "We are committed to supplementing academics with a variety of services that provide leadership training, career development, networking, and financial counseling."

Approximately 140 Greenville College employees are serving on nine committees to review issues that affect first-year students. Throughout the current academic year, the college will measure its effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising, and teaching new students. Data is being collected from Greenville College students, faculty and staff with assistance from the Gardner Institute and its technology support and educational survey partner, Educational Benchmarking, Inc. The project will yield action items that Greenville College will undertake to improve student retention, graduation rates, and the overall first-year experience.

"The Foundations of Excellence project facilitates conversations between people from all different facets of the institution about the one thing that is our shared interest, and that is our students," said Teresa Holden, co-chair of the Foundations initiative and assistant professor of history, political science and education. "It builds consensus around the types of change we believe are vital to the well-being of the institution with regard to our central mission of serving students and preparing them to be transformational figures in the world."

Additional information about the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and this project can be found at JNGI.org.

Greenville College is a four-year accredited Christian liberal arts school with more than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students.  Founded in 1892 and affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, the college is located in Greenville, Illinois, 45 miles east of St. Louis.

This story was published on November 07, 2012




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