We are proud to partner with practitioners supporting students to college graduation. In this blog series, you will hear from our partner organizations about their programs, best practices, and GradSnapp tips and tricks, along with inspiring work helping students reach college graduation.
Director of Alumni Programs
Tell us about Uplift Education.
Uplift Education is a network of tuition-free public charter schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. The organization was founded about 20 years ago, guided by the mission of empowering students to reach their highest potential. We currently serve nearly 19,000 students in K-12 and have grown and expanded significantly – we have 800 seniors graduating this year, and next year we’ll have about 1,200 graduating! Our goal is for 70 percent of our students to attain a four-year degree within six years. We believe that all of our students can achieve that milestone, and we’re here to support them throughout that entire journey, through college graduation.
How did you get your start working in college success?
I started my career in HR and recruitment, and I could see the impact on our applicant pool based on the minimum qualifications for a role. I’ve been that hiring manager, and it gave me perspective on this huge opportunity gap that exists. We need to make it possible for students to get an education, to lay the foundation so they are set up for success and can access good jobs. Creating that equity of opportunity is something that gives me pride in what I do.
How does GradSnapp fit into your model of student support?
We have about 3,000 alumni in the history of Uplift Education, and within the next three years, that population will double. We need to have clear data on our impact, to measure our programming and understand whether our support is helping students persist and reach college graduation. GradSnapp has allowed us to look at graduation rates, segmenting students by high school and college. Are we sending them to the right schools where they can be successful? Once they get to those schools, how is our programming effective or ineffective so that we can support them through to college graduation?
Having access to that information – in an easy-to-understand, accessible format – has been a great success for us, and we’ve been able to access it in a timely manner. We recently came across a few students that we expected to graduate but did not. In the past, we probably wouldn’t even have known until we received our National Student Clearinghouse data, but instead we received that information sooner and could provide timely support. In this case, we were able to get them enrolled for the spring, rather than waiting a full year for them to get back on track.
Can you tell us about a time or give us a specific example of when GradSnapp helped you better advise a student to success?
We were recently doing enrollment verification through bulk texting, a “yes or no” question: “Are you enrolled?” One student immediately responded, and we learned that they were not enrolled, but wanted to be and needed some additional help. Something had fallen through with their financial aid package, and we were able to easily connect, text back and forth, and have all this information in the system. I was able to help them right then and there, rather than waiting a couple weeks or even months to learn about the problem.
What excites you most about your work?
I have three young children and to have an impact on the landscape they’re growing up in, to make the world a better place for them, is exciting for me. It makes me excited to get up and go to work every day, knowing that we are truly changing the world.
What is your message to others working in college completion?
Keep your chin up! Our students see us struggle as we help them navigate this landscape, as we help them overcome the challenges they will surely face. If we are real and personal, if we share our stories with our students, if we can be honest that life isn’t easy and yet they still see us overcome these challenges – they know they can do it too.
Britni Searle is the Director of Alumni Programs at Uplift Education, where she supports students to complete their higher education and reach their full potential. She previously served as Director of Human Resources at Marshall Independent School District, where she later directed the district’s GO Center to support students’ lifelong goals of higher education.
Learn more about how GradSnapp can support your college success initiatives: request a demo today!