Brief Highlights Value of Building Multifaceted Student Support Programs

September 29, 2021

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Title: Improving College Graduation Rates with Multifaceted Student Support Programs

Source: MRDC

Authors: Alyssa Ratledge and Melissa Wavelet

A new brief from MRDC discusses the value of multifaceted student support programs to address college completion barriers and improve graduation rates. Multifaceted programs standout from other student success strategies as they combine numerous efforts including academic advising, career services, and financial assistance into one program. This structure provides students with holistic support as needs may change throughout the duration of their education. Though costs can be prohibitive in implementing multifaceted student support programs, the authors note several benefits in the long-run including improved student outcomes, lower overall costs as more students are served, and closing enrollment gaps exacerbated by the pandemic.

For institutions and states interested in creating and funding multifaceted student support programs, the authors offer the following implementation considerations:

1. Incorporate evidence-based components into the program – examples include financial support initiatives, proactive and frequent outreach to students, and low caseload ratios for advisors

2. Ensure equity in program delivery – for example, engaging students at a high risk of not graduating and keeping program applications short and simple

3. Target program funds to benefit the most students – this includes assessing institutions’ financial need, capacity for spending, and service to student populations

4. Use data to track program operations and effectiveness

5. Identify specific staff dedicated to supporting the operation of the program

In addition to implementation considerations, the authors also cite alignment of program development with existing strategic goals, commitment by institutional leaders, and plans for sustainability beyond initial funding allocation as necessary for program success. MRDC provides several resources to guide institutions and states on taking action to build multifaceted support programs including a cost calculator, benchmarking guide, and how to integrate student voices in program development.

Read the full brief and access additional resources here.

—Danielle Melidona

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