A Bridge to Somewhere: Hope, Caring, and Aspiration Provide a Gateway to a Better Life

College students wearing graduation hats

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, 40 percent of U.S. students entering four-year bachelor’s degree programs fail to complete them within six years; 70 percent of those entering two-year associate’s degree programs fail to complete those within three years. Too many students are getting lost in the shuffle and will end up on the academic bridge to nowhere.

Though these realities are bleak, there’s hope—recent research suggests that student support strategies that foster a caring environment can make a positive impact on a student’s future. We’ve assembled a white paper that provides essential research and actionable strategies for success. Below are some of the approaches that are proving to have a measurable effect on student outcomes:

Develop students’ metacognitive learning skills, helping them to plan, monitor, and evaluate themselves:

Metacognition includes what Professor Carol Dweck and others have called “academic tenacity”: the mindsets and skills needed to “work hard and smart for a long time” by staying focused on longer-term or higher-order goals, persist with difficult tasks, withstand setbacks, set and achieve goals, work with others, and build self-efficacy.

Commit to tutor training:

Research shows that personal, individualized, one-on-one tutoring generally works best, and careful tutor training is a key element of a tutoring program’s success. The pioneering National Study of Developmental Education found that students in both 2- and 4-year institutions who received tutoring from trained tutors earned higher first-term and cumulative GPAs, and were more likely to be retained at 4-year institutions.

Make the decision to prioritize a long-term coaching strategy:

Gallup thoroughly reviewed the elements linked to long-term success among college graduates. The three most potent factors all related to personal relationships and support: “feeling that they had a professor who made them excited about learning, that the professors at their alma mater cared about them as a person, and that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.”

The evidence is clear: human caring can positively impact long-term student success. Institutions may want to consider adopting these methods in order to ensure that students are developing the skills, capabilities, and mindsets they’ll need to succeed throughout college and beyond.

To see the entire list of institutional strategies for student success, download the white paper.