University Business Magazine Honors Kent State for Being a "Model of Excellence"
Kent State University is one of 17 colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine, a leading publication for senior managers at colleges and universities throughout the United States, in its winter 2015 Models of Excellence recognition program. The Models of Excellence program recognizes innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus. The program is sponsored by Higher One, a leading provider of financial services to college and university campuses across the U.S.
“Kent State’s choice to link academic outcomes and career outcomes is an innovative one,” says Tim Goral, University Business senior editor. “A shared sense of responsibility for career-area choices among all departments is undoubtedly a good thing.”
When a data review in 2009 revealed that undecided (“exploratory”) students were less likely to graduate from Kent State than those with a declared major on entry, leaders explored why and what they could do to improve retention.
In addition to deciding that all students must be enrolled in a degree-granting program by the time they had received 45 credit hours, the university formed a committee to further develop and refine the process exploratory students followed to find a major. The committee’s goal was to increase the retention rate of undecided freshmen from 68.4 to 75 percent and to move the percentage of students who declare their major by the time they earn 45 credit hours from 66 to 80 percent.
Working with sometimes surprising knowledge gained from Institutional Research data that helped the committee get a better picture of exploratory students, Kent State’s University College, which is responsible for undecided students, instituted a six-point Exploration Plan in 2012. All undecided students:
- Are required to select a concentration from eight options upon admission.
- Take the First-Year Experience course that focuses on decision-making and career options.
- Are assessed for their ability to make a vocational choice through the Career Maturity Inventory (CMI).
- Take courses linked to their concentration.
- Must participate in at least three advising sessions during their first year.
- Take a Career Exploration Course that helps them become more familiar with options.
As a result, the retention rate for the fall 2013 undecided freshmen increased to 75 percent and students declaring a major by the time they acquired 45 credit hours increased to 83 percent. Administrators continue to refine the plan as they learn more from data and conversations.
“Before we started, we saw our exploratory students as one group with the same characteristics,” says Steven Antalvari Jr., university advising director at Kent State’s University College. “This program has helped us learn to serve them as unique individuals based on their backgrounds and interests, and that approach contributes to its success.”
This is the second recent honor received by Kent State and its University College. The university was recognized by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition with the 2015 Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award.
In addition to Kent State, winter 2015 Models of Excellence honorees include: Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida); State Fair Community College (Sedalia, Missouri); Miami Dade College (Miami, Florida); University of San Diego (San Diego, California); Southeast Technical Institute (Sioux Falls, South Dakota); Governors State University (University Park, Illinois); University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina); Georgian Court University (Lakewood, New Jersey); Endicott College (Beverly, Massachusetts); Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona); NorthWest Arkansas Community College (Bentonville, Arkansas); St. Petersburg College (St. Petersburg, Florida); Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York; University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell, Massachusetts); University of Minnesota Twin Cities (Minneapolis, Minnesota); and Excelsior College (Albany, New York).
Launched in 2015, Models of Excellence is a national recognition program that honors colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and interdepartmental initiatives that are bolstering student success. For more information about University Business magazine and the Models of Excellence honorees, visit www.universitybusiness.com.
For more information about the University College at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/universitycollege.