How Data Drive Strategy for Part-Time Students

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Two-thirds of South Texas College (STC) attend school part time. In late Spring 2017, STC found that students who enrolled in one course had a persistence rate of 68.7 percent, while students who enrolled in two courses (or 5.69 credit hours) showed an improved persistence rate of 76.1 percent. Previously, STC focused outreach on encouraging part-time students to become full-time students. For those students already attending full-time, they were encouraged to enroll in 15 credit hours, or five courses. Shifting Priorities According to STC, there was clearly a larger opportunity for impacting student persistence (7.4 percentage point increase) by encouraging the right students to take just one more course. This information gathered through Illume countered commonly-held beliefs that persistence could be impacted more by encouraging part-time students to become full-time students (enrolling in 12 credit hours or more). “This was the first time we saw the data on part-time students,” said Dr. Laura B. Sanchez, Dean of Institutional Research, Effectiveness and Strategic Planning at STC. “When this data was presented to our Planning and Development Council, it shifted our conversations from ‘How do we get part-time students to become full-time students?’ to ‘ How can we get part-time students to register for 1 to 2 more courses?’ We now know these are areas where we can — and should — focus. It’s an opportunity, and it’s spurring new conversations and plans for targeted action.” Next Steps STC’s cross-functional team now can explore opportunities to deploy outreach, including nudges, and encourage these students, when appropriate, to take one more course based on this new insight. Across our community of practice (and higher ed), there is an opportunity to take immediate, informed action to support these students, and especially, to support part-time students. Our partners can deploy and measure precise mindset-based nudges according to student-level prediction scores.

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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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