If we need more ideas for how to make WMU better, great, and outstanding, then we need to look no further than outside our window. Every day thousands of students are on campus. Students have unique, valuable insights about the university — they experience the campus environment and services every day and can easily tell us what is supporting their success as well as what is not. All we have to do is approach a student, ask them a question, listen, be able to consider their feedback, be willing to act upon their idea, and follow-up with the student to see if our action supported the student’s goals/opinion/needs.
A recent article in the Kalamazoo Gazette demonstrates how feedback can be obtained from students. When asked about their impressions of the new Western Edge student success program, students indicated that the attention they expect to receive via the Edge may keep them motivated to stay in college (Davis, 2007). Another student emphasized the importance of personal attention — prior to moving his major to the School of Music he felt that he did not receive the personal care and attention he needed to succeed (Davis, 2007). One potential downside of the Edge, indicated by a junior attending WMU, is the expectation by WMU for freshmen to complete 30 credit hours — such an extensive workload may be too much (Davis 2007).
From the interviews conducted by the Kalamazoo Gazette, we can see that a student’s concept of student success appears to primarily focus on receiving personal care and attention in addition to advising, being able to get the course they need, and graduating on time.
Based on this feedback, our next steps might be to consider methods for enhancing personal attention for each student as well as providing alternative success strategies to those students who, in order to be successful, need to take fewer credits per semester. Note that the later appears to be an indication that there is academic success defined as gaining conceptual and applied knowledge abilities as well as financial success defined as graduating in four years in order to reduce debt at time of graduation.
How might we increase the quality of personal attention at each point of contact with our students? Consider that potential points of contact with students include and are not limited to when a student is considering a college, application, admission, housing, financial aid, student life, buying books, attending class, completing coursework, staying fit, receiving health care, academic advising, financial advising, career advising and placement, course registration, transcript processing, graduation audit, graduation, and alumni relations.
Davis, P. M. (2007). How much of an Edge at WMU? Retrieved September 4, 2007, from http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/