An Institutional Maturity Model for Student Success

How is the university designed and prepared for maximum impact on students?

The following 20 strategic areas within universities offer a continuum on which institutions’ can evaluate their institutional efforts at student success. As one moves from left to right, the institution shows a greater demonstration of best practices in establishing an environment for a thriving student experience.

 Focus AreaStrugglingSurvivalSuccessThriving
MissionThere is one but it is over 50 words and no one knows itThere is one but it is never mentioned by university leadershipThere is one and it is talked about but not lived out intentionallyThere is one and you will often find faculty and staff who know it by heart and live it out
Strategic PlanThere is not a strategic plan for the universityThere is a strategic plan but it is not being used to guide decision makingThere is a strategic plan and decisions are being made with it in mindThe strategic plan guides university action and is regularly assessed and updated
ChangePeople are just uncomfortable with change and therefore avoid itPeople know change is sometimes needed, but it is only implemented if necessaryPeople are open to change and recognize it needs to be a part of their university rolesThe entire campus is regularly seeking to change to adapt to the external environment and internal strengths
CollaborationPeople mainly operate within their own unitsPeople are friendly to people in other units and work with them if neededPeople enjoy getting to know others across campus and periodically create collaborative partnershipsThe entire campus seeks to work collaboratively and improves becau8se of this
Leadership CommunicationThere is not a culture of transparent communicationCommunication occurs from the top when major issues ariseCommunication occurs at designated forums and meetings several times a semesterCommunication is a frequent aspect of leadership
ConflictConflict is avoided at all costsConflict is a required aspect of live that sometimes has to be dealt withConflict can be healthy and there should be pathways for resolving itConflict can bring about organizational success and is openly welcomed
High ExpectationsThere are no clear standards for student successThere are standards but no one knows what they areThere are clear standards and some people are working to achieve themThere are clear standards that are openly communicated to students
Inclusive CommunityThere are clearly some groups of students left on their ownStudents who may not look or act like the majority have someone designated they can go to for helpThere are staff persons designated and working to help students who are underrepresented succeedThe entire campus is working to help all students feel a part of the university
AssessmentAssessment is not a word people want to talk aboutAssessment is acknowledged as a required aspect of workAssessment can be helpful when additional resources are neededAssessment is a core component of the culture and used to guide decision making
Using Resources WiselyThere is little knowledge of how budgets and resource utilization occursMany people know how to navigate the culture to get the resources they need for their unitPeople recognize that their unit is part of a larger whole and that they need to be good stewards of what they have been givenPeople regularly seek to review their use of budget and resources and improve this use over time
High Impact Practices (HIPs)There is little awareness of HIPsThere is awareness but little organized effort to increase the HIPsThe HIPs are known to a number of people on campus and are being grown over timeThe HIPs have been known for some time and many of them are integrated
TechnologyTechnology is a necessary evil that we will integrateTechnology is being adopted but causing major headachesTechnology is being used to improve service to studentsPeople are regularly studying technology trends for how they can improve the university
Early InterventionThere is little knowledge of what this term means at the collegeIf someone at the university sees a student in trouble, they report it to someoneThere is a mechanism in place to identify students at riskThere is a mechanism in place to identify students at risk and reach out to them and get them on the right path
Job PlacementThere is little awareness on campus of the role to help students find good jobsThere is a career center on campus where students can go if they need help finding a jobThere are programs that help students in securing internships, summer jobs, and on-campus work and research that can help themThere is an almost universal awareness at the college that everyone is responsible for helping students find great jobs through experiences like internships
AdvisingFaculty serve as academic advisors and receive little to no training on how to do thisFaculty serve as advisors and participate in regular training and have measures for successThere are professional academic advisors on campus with case loads over 400 studentsThere are professional advisors on campus with case loads below 300 students
Financial AidThere is little institutional aid going to help financially needy studentsThere is some need-based aid but the amount provided leaves an aid gap of over 40%There is need-based based aid that is given out and used to significantly reduce financial gapsStudents receive almost all of their required need-based aid
Academic SupportThere are some resources to help students succeed but they are severely under-resourcedThere are distinct units with dedicated staff that assist students with tutoring and learning accommodations There are distinct units trained and educated to model best practices in academic supportThere is evidence that a significant number of students are using the academic support services and measurable student success is improving
Co-curricular ActivitiesThere is little going on on-campus outside of classesThere are some student groups that gather but they have little budget and small numbersThere are a number of student involvement opportunities and many students take advantage of themThere are student groups for many interests and they are meeting regularly and providing students with leadership skills
WellnessThere are health and counseling services outsourcedThere are on-campus health and counseling servicesThere are sufficient health and counseling center staff to meet student needs (not wants)There are not only sufficient staff but staff also doing outreach for preventative care and meeting new needs
HousingThere is no on campus housingThere is on campus housing for a small portion of interested studentsMost of the freshman class lives on campusAt least 50% of the students live on campus

1 Comment

  1. It’s a great sharing Jeff.
    24 years working experience in the higher education institution, graduate studies in Higher Education Administration, and Management-HR my deep concern is also with these 20 strategic areas which are vital in student success and institutional growth and development.


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