TCUs Take Action to Improve Holistic Support to Students

In the fall 2019, six Tribal College and Universities began their work with the Serving Native American Students with Holistic Student Supports Project to transform the student experience at their colleges through a holistic student supports redesign.  Through this engagement with Achieving the Dream, the TCUs are receiving customized coaching, subgrants and opportunities to engage with the others in the cohort as a community of practice, to strengthen their capacity to better serve students in their communities. The holistic student support approach helps institutions redefine the way they understand, design, and deliver the range of services that are critical for the success of every student.  The overarching goal of the project is to make it easier for students to identify and access academic and non-academic student supports in a timely manner, before they decide to drop or stop out.

Colleges participating in the Project include: Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (MN), Ilisagvik College, (AK) United Tribes Technical College (ND), Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (ND), Stone Child College (MT) and White Earth Tribal and Community College (MN).  While their Action/Evaluation Plans were submitted last week, at the end of the first year of receiving coaching, the six colleges launched into action immediately after completing their Opportunity Assessments with their ATD coaches during the fall 2019.  And COVID-19 has not stopped them, despite the challenges and extra work a response to the pandemic has demanded.  In many ways, it has made the HSS work more urgent and expansive as plans for both in person and remote supports are implemented and refined.

General areas of focus for the cohort include:

  • Refining the first year experience to ensure student needs are being met and they are ready for success on day one, including strengthening student intake and orientation processes
  • Implementing early and more intensive advising
  • Redesigning advising to include co-advisors
  • Improving access to information about internal and external academic and non-academic services and outreach
  • Organizing communications with students
  • Providing early, intentional career guidance for students
  • Building or expanding early alert systems with timelines and protocols
  • Increasing online capacity through new student information systems and software for online orientation and career assessment
  • Expanding outreach and outcomes through the strategic use of financial aid dollars
  • Professional development to faculty advisors to facilitate consistent and accurate advising

Evaluation plans were integrated into each Action Plan and included leading indicators so the colleges would be able to carefully track the early implementation and effectiveness of new strategies and make adjustments as needed.

In September, the six colleges will come together virtually as a community of practice to discuss their plans and share progress and resources.  As the Project progresses, important stories, helpful resources and lessons learned will be captured and included in a TCU Holistic Student Support Toolkit which will be available to all TCUs and other interested institutions.

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