Holistic Student Supports



Supporting the student experience from connection through completion requires more than offering a wide menu of student programs and services.  As colleges across the country embrace guided pathways, implement advising technologies, and rethink what it means for students to be college and career ready, it is imperative that colleges are operating with an intentional student-centered design that allows for the maximization of limited resources in support of student success and equity at scale. Through our work with more than 100 institutions across the nation, we discovered that the most effective way to support students in getting on their path and staying on their path to academic and career success is through a holistic student supports approach.

What is a Holistic Student Supports Approach?

A holistic student supports approach is the intentional planning and integration of mission critical student academic and personal supports. This is different from simply offering a multitude of disparate services for designated populations of students. Providing holistic student supports requires that institutions become student-ready by integrating and enhancing myriad support services into a seamless, timely, and personal experience for every student.


To achieve this, institutions need to design, implement, evaluate, and sustain: 

  1. a comprehensive advising program and student support model 
  2. the development of a scalable case management model
  3. the use of a change leadership framework to engage the campus community and continue to refine the institution's approach
  4. assessing, optimizing, and improving technology use to include using technology to scale supports, improve operations, and generate actionable data for ongoing process improvement.

Download our Holistic Student Supports Redesign Toolkit here.

How Holistic Student Supports Redesign Aligns with Guided Pathways

A growing emphasis on guided pathways has colleges increasingly looking to redesign critical support services, such as advising and academic planning, to ensure that more students can reach their educational and career goals. However, a comprehensive approach to guided pathways that realizes its full potential is not complete without a holistic approach to student supports that goes beyond advising and planning redesigns. It is possible, however, for a college to move forward with the thoughtful and purposeful implementation of holistic student supports without committing to guided pathways.
Ready to get started? Learn more about how Achieving the Dream can help accelerate your holistic student supports redesign efforts at www.AchievingtheDream.org/HSSCoaching.

Download our Holistic Student Supports Redesign Toolkit here.

View a recording of the March 6, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: What We're Learning


View a recording of March 13, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: A Gateway to College for High School Students


View a recording of March 20, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: Increasing Success for Student Mothers at Community Colleges




View a recording of March 27, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: Supporting the Success of Students Enrolled Part-Time




“One of the most promising practices for our campus in the past six months is the redesign and streamlining of advising services and workforce student support program services allowing us to implement greater integration, cross-training, and inter-departmental collaboration. We believe this new design will aid us in efficiently and effectively scaling our services to our fullest potential.”                                                                          - Walla Walla Community College


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