Why is the concept of Student-Ready College so important?
Having a college degree reduces the risk of being unemployed and increases socioeconomic mobility. The student population is becoming more diverse with students attending college from different backgrounds and cultures at much higher rate than in the past. Many students attending college are non-traditional learners, having joined the workforce after high school instead of going directly to college. These students struggle to stay in college and graduate. It is essential for colleges to adapt student services, business operations, and academic programs to be responsive to the specific needs of all students so they are successful. In the past, colleges expected students to come to college prepared to be successful. For many lower-income students or non-traditional students, they are not prepared and look to the college to help them develop the academic and social skills they need to be successful in the real world. Student-ready colleges do this by focusing on the individual to prepare them to succeed in college and to be active participants in society once they graduate.
Who needs to be involved for this transition to happen?
The motivation for transitioning to a student-ready college needs to be clearly articulated so everyone understands their role and how they are contributing to the process. The transition to a student-ready college should be inclusive and include everyone working on a college campus. Letting faculty and staff have a voice at the table during the transition is an excellent motivator. If they are able to contribute their ideas to the transition, they are more likely to buy into the transition and work to make the transition successful. This is a great example of what shared governance should look like.
It is also important for students to have role models that they can relate to. Using faculty and staff to connect with students is a great way to develop leadership skills and for students to feel connected. One way this could be done is by connecting first-generation students enrolled in college with faculty and staff that were also first-generation students. The faculty and staff can serve as role models for these students and help them navigate the college process. Empowering staff to engage with students is a way for the entire campus community to be actively engaged and supportive of the transition. Everyone is working towards a common goal of serving students.
Students should also be part of the discussion and give insight on how to move the transition forward. Having a voice at the table will go a long way to getting buy in on the process from the students and make them active participants in the process.
Who will benefit from this concept and why?
This is a situation where everyone benefits. Students benefit from a campus community that is engaged and actively working to help the students succeed academically and socially. The administration, faculty, and staff are working together to use their experiences to serve students. On many college campuses, staff do not feel connected to the student experience. Actively engaging staff in educating students makes them feel like they are active participants in the campus community and will increase productivity and morale. Faculty will engage in students differently in a student-ready college and focus on student success. Faculty will need to know who their students are, what their background or culture is, and understand their socio-economic status to understand how each student learns to be effective teachers. Students will have more empathetic instructors and be treated as an individual instead of lumped into a group.
What is the benefit to the institution for doing this?
A student-ready campus creates an inclusive campus community. This is one of the biggest benefits of this concept. All employees across every level of teaching and service feel part of the transition process and are focused on student success. Faculty will become better teachers and connect more with their students. Students will have a nurturing environment in which to learn. Students will all be treated as capable learners and will be encouraged and supported as they develop the social and academic skills they need to be successful contributing members of society.
McNair, T. B., Albertine, S. L., Cooper, M. A., McDonald, N. L., & Major, T. (2016). Becoming a student-ready college: A new culture of leadership for student success. Jossey-Bass.
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I am a higher education administrator with over 15 years of experience in communications and operations. The views in my blog are my own.