Picture yourself as a prospective student at Montgomery County Community College, just about to register for college classes for the first time. You know there’s quite a journey in front of you – two years of full-time study that, you hope, will end with your receiving an associate’s degree.
But in high school, you recall all too well, you really struggled in a class or two. What will the challenges look like, you wonder, with college courses? And if you run into trouble in a college class, will anyone notice? If they do, will they point you toward someone who can help? How will you select just the right courses for your career goal? And how much will it really cost to get that degree?
Or put yourself in the shoes of an advisor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. You have lots of information at your disposal when first- or second-year students meet with you – too much, in fact. And sometimes you’re not certain what to make of it when considering a specific student’s case. For instance, the early alert system is capable of reporting that a student is struggling in a class, while the degree audit system can show you which students are currently at moderate risk of not completing their degrees – but you have to sign into and consult the systems separately. You’d love to know how to sort through the maze of information and make your priority offering help to the students who need it most – how do you know which students those are?
As their students and staff members confront challenges like these, innovative and committed institutions are turning to Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success in Higher Education (iPASS). iPASS is both a set of technology services and an ambitious program to transform advising at the higher education institutions that adopt them. Montgomery County Community College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are among 24 recipients of a set of new grants from EDUCAUSE (see the press release), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
From an operational standpoint, the iPASS awards are about implementing and integrating new technology that vendors have developed in recent years which provides holistic information to all stakeholders about student progress and plans more seamlessly, more immediately, and in more usable forms. Strategically and more critically, though, the awards are about reforming and transforming student advising; the institutions that received them have made commitments to that reform and transformation.
Grantee universities and colleges will implement iPASS to offer three student-facing functions:
- education planning,
- counseling and coaching,
- and targeting risk and intervention.
While recipients will obviously benefit from the funding they now can apply to the costs of launching new technologies in conjunction with systems they already have in place, the ultimate beneficiaries will be students, along with those professional staff and faculty members who advise and support them as they progress toward completing their degrees.