How to know each of your college students

As the Portfolio Director of Dell Scholars Program, I know the key to success in helping our Dell Scholars graduate from college depends on our ability to know each and every student.  To know who they are.  To know when they need our help.  To know when to intervene.  As a small team of four people, this hasn’t always been easy.  So how have we managed to get four times the national graduation rate for our Dell Scholars, compared to the same socioeconomic group?  The simple answer: GradSnapp.

GradSnapp is the solution we created to help us know our students.  The Dell Scholars Program began in 2004 with 90 students and to date we’ve supported over 3,500 students with a very lean team.  We needed a way to keep up with that growth, and technology was able to serve that need.  And while technology can be seen as impersonal and cold, the solution we created enables us to achieve the exact opposite.  It has given us the ability to stay in touch with our students and know when someone is in need of help.

Our ability to help any given student is dependent on what we know.  Do we know the whole story? Can we recognize risks and setbacks early? Are we able to be there for the long haul?  Once we know a student needs our help, we can easily intervene and provide the appropriate support.  Those are the questions GradSnapp helps us answer on a daily basis.

How it works

I’ll share the experience of a former Dell Scholar as an example of how the tool works.  This student was a freshman and was struggling with being away from home for the first time and organizing his time effectively.  He worked part-time to continue to help his family with expenses, and he was juggling a full course load at college.  Between work and school, he was putting in 15 hour days, and he was having trouble keeping up with his schoolwork.  He was losing hope that he was going to make it through the first semester of college.

Thankfully, he chose to text our staff at the Dell Scholars Program.  We received a flag from our system letting us know he needed to speak with someone as soon as possible.  That allowed us to intervene immediately, so we were able to get him the right support at the right time.

[quote]We spent a decade making sure GradSnapp would work for our own students. Learn what can it do for yours.[/quote]

The tool also allowed us to effectively communicate with one another as a team about his progress.  “Collective case management” is a fairly new term and refers to how a team effectively manages caseloads allowing many team members to engage with a student and pick up where the last contact left off.  I discussed this in an earlier blog, 3 things that count in college completion program models:

“As the program matured, we found that there wasn’t an existing case management model to allow our lean staff to provide high-touch support. In order to efficiently and continuously offer students the right help at the right time, support them through graduation and track our progress, we’re forced to work differently than a traditional caseload model in which individual staff are assigned a specific subset of students to shepherd through their college careers.  Our approach, referred to as collective case management, is a hybrid of traditional practices—students are assigned to a primary program contact—and techniques that ensure any team member can engage with a scholar and pick up where the last contact left off to provide necessary assistance without delay.”

With the student in my example, the tool gave the whole team access to his progress so any one of us could step in and take over.

How it can work for you

That decade of using and refining the tool has helped us better serve our own students.  Our learnings have shaped what the tool is today and saves our team valuable time, allowing us to focus more on interventions and less on administrative tasks.  It gives us the ability to help students when they need it most.

And now you can use it to better serve yours.  If you are an organization struggling with tracking your students to college graduation, this tool is for you.  Click here to schedule a demo and learn more about what GradSnapp can do for you.  Because I think we can all agree: [tweetable]Acceptance letters are great.  But diplomas are even better.[/tweetable]

We spent a decade making sure GradSnapp would work for our own students. Learn what can it do for yours.