Kent State Receives Honors for Its Commitment to Student Success
Recently, Kent State University has received two honors recognizing the university’s commitment to student success. Both awards involve the University College and its Exploration Plan Program, which helps exploratory students shift to a degree-granting program and encourages student success.
Kent State Receives 2015 Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award
Kent State is the recipient of the 2015 Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. The center is committed to setting the standard for excellence in supporting students at critical junctures in the educational pipeline, and it seeks to promote intentional and integrative connections within and across institutions and educational sectors to enhance the student transition experience.
The Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award is presented annually to institutions that have designed and implemented outstanding collaborative initiatives enhancing significant transitions during the undergraduate experience. As an award recipient, Kent State has demonstrated the effectiveness of the initiative in supporting student success, learning and development at a variety of transition points beyond the first college year and in responding to unique institutional needs.
Kent State received the award for its Exploration Plan Program housed in the University College, which is designed to enrich the freshman experience for undecided students and to expedite a shift into a degree-granting program within the first three semesters. As a result of the implementation of the Exploration Plan Program, Kent State has increased the retention of undecided students, the number of students transitioning from undecided to declaring a major by the time they earn 45 semester credit hours, and the average sophomore to junior persistence rate for exploratory students.
“We are honored to receive this award from an organization that serves as the standard bearer for student success,” said Eboni Pringle, Ph.D., dean of the University College at Kent State. “The award would not be possible without the dedication of Steven Antalvari, Dr. Tracy Lara and our Exploratory Advisors. This award recognizes the importance of helping students make informed decisions about their purpose and future career. Additionally, the recognition demonstrates the value of collaboration and reaching across divisions to meet the needs of our students.”
University Business Magazine Honors Kent State for Being a “Model of Excellence”
Kent State 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.
“Kent State’s choice to link academic outcomes and career outcomes is an innovative one,” said University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “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,” said 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.”