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Midland Announces New Student-Centered Advising Initiative

Midland Announces New Student-Centered Advising Initiative

Sep 23rd , 2011

Midland University leaders today highlighted a new, campus-wide effort involving faculty and staff in helping students succeed from the time they enroll at Midland through graduation.

Focusing on building a stronger, student-centered environment, this year Midland opened a new student advising center in the Anderson Complex building, which serves as a hub for students, faculty and staff to cross paths and interact. The center was envisioned to draw on both personal connections from across campus and data to help students map their college and life goals into a personalized plan.

Dr. Ben Sasse, Midland University President, said, “We have seen tremendous growth in student enrollment as part of Midland’s rebuilding efforts. We are thrilled at the energy so many new faces are bringing to campus. Now we want to make sure every student receives all the benefits a college like Midland can provide by maximizing opportunities for interaction during their four years here.

“A small college environment provides an opportunity to have a 360-degree view of students that includes an understanding of their strengths and personalities. Combining that understanding with data on attendance, grades and other measures of life on campus, will provide a good picture of a student’s development over time.”

This expanded advising initiative represents a new and critical investment in improving student retention at Midland. Each student is matched with a student development advisor, who can connect with key players in a student’s life on campus including: faculty advisors and professors, coaches, fine arts directors, residence hall leaders, and other members of the student development team, as well as family.

The focus on advising provides early intervention and support for student having difficulty adjusting to college or who encounter personal or family challenges, as well as those who could benefit from encouragement to set more challenging personal goals.

Midland launched the effort this summer as new students began registration and later moved into campus housing, with advisors devoting special emphasis on ensuring a successful transition for new students. Admissions counselors, academic advisors and coaches reached out to late-arriving students. Midland began tracking basic data points such as book pick-up, acceptance of financial aid packages, and attendance in class and at athletic practices. Retention leaders meet daily to review data and feedback from advisors and develop a priority list of students for follow-up as needed.

Dr. Steve Bullock, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, said, “Midland is an ideal setting for this kind of program. Retention is tied to much more than academics and coursework. Research tells us the reasons a student delays graduation or leaves college are often reflective of personal challenges rather than simply academic concerns. We are strengthening our support systems to help them persist in their studies and engage them in a full range of things that contribute to student success.”

Greg Fritz, Vice President for Student Development and Retention, said, “Our advisors are here to offer personalized guidance as students take on new responsibilities. Our goal is to help them better navigate college life. And because Midland offers a wide range of activities, we want to encourage them to be engaged in our campus community.”

Part of a larger campus-wide focus on retention, Midland officials expect the expanded student advising concept will provide valuable insight as the university seeks new ways to engage students. It is one of several efforts launched to strengthen student retention this year, including a new ‘bridge program’ allowing incoming freshman to enroll in summer courses to provide additional transition time.

Dr. Sasse said, “We want our students to have a meaningful college experience. This global take on student advising is about looking beyond academic performance to ensure each student is developing and being challenged at Midland."