How Part-Time Students received Support Services and Increased Persistence

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The latest Community Insights Report, which considers subset of data compiled from 300+ higher education institutions, revealed new information around non-traditional student populations – more specifically – part-time students. This new release discovered a difference in persistence rates among students who take varying number of courses within a term. It also found a gap in the persistence rate for part-time vs full-time students across community college, research, and 4-year universities. Serving All Students This data reinforces the importance of building supports to serve students from all walks of life. But to serve all students, you must see all students. We must move beyond a “one-size-fits-all” formula when designing strategies to improve student persistence and completion. According to the report, only one in four students enroll full-time or take four or more courses at community college. Due to this recent release of insight, poses the question – how will universities adjust their outlook when they apply long-term strategy? Since full university data hasn’t typically been so widely available, new insights such as this challenges universities to shift traditional processes and ensure administrators and faculty are on board to be where the students are. Take University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) for example where 80% of students are commuters, many are part-time, and a majority take night classes. This breakdown validates where a majority of non-traditional student populations, compelled faculty and administration to rethink student accommodations and services. Only one of several examples, illustrates when a university must take a step back to re-evaluate the populations they serve to assist students to be successful. What are Institutions Doing? We take a deeper dive into three other institutions with similar performance rates for full-time and part-time students who targeted meaningful support to keep all students on path to a credential. The following institutions we will look at are:
  • South Texas College (STC) – Through detection of student insights, STC quickly adjusted strategy to fit the needs of the majority of their non-traditional student populations and focused on not assuming all students should take full time schedules.
  • University of Washington | Tacoma (UW) – UW modified their curricular design to accommodate to their older, full-time, transfer student populations.
  • Sinclair Community College (SCC) – SCC was laser focused on getting their majority part-time students to program completion through student agency and curbing unnecessary courses.
Why is this Important? Data across community colleges and universities historically haven’t been combined in a way that could shed light on persistence with different student populations until recently. Given the lack of data on non-traditional students across most higher education, it is exciting to reveal new insights about part-time students. It’s a new era in higher education. Data can be a gateway to help higher education institutions better understand their students. Learn how South Texas College used part-time data insights to impact persistence, which completely shifted their outreach conversations. 


Achieving the Dream president, Karen Stout, and Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning, Mark Milliron dive into the findings from our analysis of 1.4 million student records to learn more about the students who attend part-time.

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