Exploring the concept of student success

Let’s explore the concept of student success.

On August 28, Dr. John M. Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, wrote a letter to the editor of the Detroit Free Press to express his opinion that WMU is an institution that is just “the right size, with a rich history, a promising future and a commitment to student success” and that WMU is “determined to be sensitive to overall educational costs” (Dunn, 2007). Dunn’s letter was in response to a Detroit Free Press article published two weeks earlier titled “Small schools fear biggest universities will hog state cash”. As a WMU staff member, I was encouraged by Dunn’s views on WMU and his decision to share his opinions publicly.

There has been a lot of talk on campus of ‘student success’. Yet, before we can take real steps in assisting students to be successful, it is important to consider what outcomes, characteristics, and actions are necessary to support the overall concept of student success. Our institution has started by conceptualizing student success as degree completion “in the shortest possible time frame” (Dunn, 2007). As part of the Western Edge WMU plans to “offer incoming students a compact that will require them to carry a full credit load, commit to annual advising, declare a major by the start of their sophomore year and agree to take advantage of a range of campus academic support measures” (WMU, 2007). While WMU is emphasizing the graduation portion of their plan at this point in time, it is encouraging to see the institution recognize that student success also involves academic advising, declaration of a major and utilization of support services. WMU’s Western Edge is still being developed by key stake holders at the university and more detailed information regarding the effort is being published to the Western Edge Web site as it becomes available.

In the mean time, over the next few days let’s consider the other aspects of student success. What do you think students think would make them successful in their academic endeavors? What other things could be done to assist students?

Dunn, J.M. (2007). Nothing small about WMU’s mission. Retrieved August 30, 2007 from http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007708280333

WMU (2007). The Western Edge. Retrieved August 30, 2007 from http://www.wmich.edu/edge/.

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