On Tuesday, August 6, The University of North Carolina systems announced that the University of North Carolina Greensboro would be one of six institutions receiving a grant to participate in the student success innovation lab (SSIL). Student success innovation lab is a project put together by the UNC system to improve graduation rates and ensure student success.
The grant consists of $200,000 to fund and evaluate different innovative strategies that aim to improve student success.
The six North Carolina universities awarded the grant include; UNC Asheville, UNC Pembroke, UNC Charlotte, North Carolina A&T, East Carolina University and UNC Greensboro. Each school proposed different interventions and were selected based off which projects seemed most promising.
The grants require all institutions to implement rigorous testing of the interventions by having third-party evaluators within the UNC system to offer an external objective view.
Dr. Gicheva, a UNCG professor working in the Bryan School of Business and Economics, is serving as an evaluator at UNCC. According to Gicheva, each intervention is designed differently for each school and are based on the financial and academic needs of students.
Eden Bloss in University Communications stated, ” UNCG’s project, titled ‘Disrupting the Churn: The Effects of Targeted Supports on Late College Outcomes,’ is led by Dr. Samantha Raynor in the Division of Student Success and Dr. Steven Hemelt, from UNC-Chapel Hill, who will serve as the evaluator.”
Bloss shared, “UNCG’s intervention will select 300 students to participate by pairing them with transitional advisors who will work to help them understand the academic and financial implications of their current paths, as well as identify alternative options that still align with their career and life goals.”
Dr. Gicheva shared that the idea behind UNCG’s intervention is to assist students that may be struggling in their majors. She stated, “transitional advisors are going to work with students by offering them alternative fields to pursue.” She continued by saying, ” it’s not about changing students minds, but more so educating them on how much it’s going to cost to pursue their current major.” She shared that many students are unaware that they are close to using all of their financial aid, and that it is helpful to have someone assist in informing them on the resources they have available for pursuing their degree.
According to northcarolina.edu, “Grants support innovative practices in three areas: teaching and learning, student services and financial aid. Individual initiatives that prove successful can be scaled up at the home institution and, in some cases, expanded across the UNC System.” Students will also be offered an incentive for their participation that will be applied directly to their financial aid.
For now, the interventions offered are taking an experimental approach in hopes of bringing schools together to share what works to expand the program.