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Improving Completion Rates for Underrepresented Populations

Daniels et al., 2019 / The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges / July 2019

students on computer

Most experienced educators recognize that many students will not complete optional assignments, and often those students who need additional help do not seek assistance. Current research demonstrates that students in underrepresented populations (see definition below) are less likely to seek support than others because they see needing help as a confirmation that they don’t really “belong” in college in the first place. Research shows that those who do access currently optional supports such as tutoring are more likely to succeed, so this research group looked for ways to build structured connections between underrepresented students and resources.

We found that our peers at various VCCS colleges had programs that were working to build these connections for our students, so in our resource-constrained environment, we chose to focus on what exists that works, is scalable, and could be implemented in stages as resources permit. Our proposal reflects increased resource allocation on both the academic support (tutoring) side and the student support (TRIO, Pathway to the Baccalaureate, Success Coaches) side to increase structured contact between the student and the support to decrease the “stigma” of seeking help. We propose this because in our roles as administrators and faculty we know that often our students need both academic support and holistic support.