A Three-Part Series to Challenge You in the New Year
I remember a semester in college when three of my good friends and I parted ways for the winter break, fully expecting to see one another upon our return to campus. I was the only one who returned. Surprising as it is to have only one of four friends return, it isn’t at all uncommon, especially on today’s college campuses. There is an unparalleled college completion crisis in this country and it’s time to re-evaluate and redefine the work being done to support student persistence.
A Fundamental Shift
The work of Dr. VIncent Tinto and numerous others provide the theoretical framework for what we do at EdSights. We take Dr. Tinto’s decades-long research and experience and use it as the foundation for the AI and text-driven solutions we use to support student persistence. We apply theory to practice.
To do this work requires a fundamental shift. This shift requires thinking about the college completion crisis from the student perspective - a focus on the student experience, the whole student, and what motivates them to persist. We must shift away from the concept of student retention - or the university perspective focused on what can do to retain students - to student persistence, which begins with the student and their motivation to persist, to keep going, to graduate, to achieve their goals regardless of the university at which they’re enrolled.
EdSights is Here to Help
At EdSights, we understand the student perspective. We know the barriers to student persistence and have seen how AI-powered chatbots and text messaging can identify solutions to tackle those barriers.
We’ve launched the EdSighters Community and The Student Persistence Study with a goal of building a community to support the change needed to tackle the student persistence challenge.
We’ve identified ways to support students on the precipice of an economic downturn and shown how colleges and universities can address key barriers to student persistence.
We’ve discussed key financial barriers to persistence; barriers that have been redefined and elevated in the pandemic.
Building a sense of belonging remains a critical piece in the student persistence journey.
We’ve strengthened our commitment to understanding and tackling the key barriers to student persistence.
Our focus includes key populations impacted most by the completion crisis, including first-generation and minority students.
We’ve doubled-down on the indisputable role mental health and student well-being play in student persistence and believe it must be a priority for higher education.
We consistently keep the student perspective at the center of our work and the work of our partners, which requires reimagining the student experience beyond what we’ve always thought it to be.
Reimagining the Student Experience
Earlier this fall, The Chronicle of Higher Education released a report, Reimagining the Student Experience. The report not only supports what we, at EdSIghts, have found in our own research to be the barriers to persistence, but goes beyond identifying those barriers to showcasing the role colleges and universities must play if they want to see retention and graduation rates rise. Colleges and universities can no longer function under a belief that their role is solely to educate, but rather must see themselves as responsible for the whole student.
After the new year, we will dive further into this report and other supporting research to showcase the difference data-informed and AI-driven interventions can make in student persistence on your campus. We will break down how such interventions can impact a student’s daily mental health and well-being, the ways in which they support belonging, and how they can influence the connections a student makes academically and beyond.
We implore you to join us; to reimagine the experience of your students; and to consider the proactive steps you’re taking to connect with, and support, students before it’s too late.
By Carolina Recchi
Co-Founder and CEO at EdSights
Carolina moved to the US from Italy at 17 for college. As a first-generation US college student she experienced first-hand the hurdles of navigating higher education. Not knowing who to turn to for help as a student, she decided to build a technology that helps all students navigate college. Today, EdSights works with ~100 institutions and Carolina was named by Forbes one of the most influential people in education.