Understanding What Drives Student Success

By Guest Author | October 19, 2021 | , , | Higher Education, Student Experience

By: Betty Fleurimond, Managing Director, Higher Education Practice, Deloitte

Studies show that students who are both low-income and first-generation college learners have a 21% chance of completing a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared with a 66% chance among other students.

The same disparity can be seen in enrollment rates.

In 2020, 29% of households with at least one student expected to start college canceled their students’ fall enrollment — with Black, Hispanic, low- and middle-income, and first-generation households being the most likely to do so.

Despite the dismal data, many colleges and universities are delivering positive outcomes for those most at risk and have continued to achieve strong results during the tumultuous past year and a half.

In our first joint research project, Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education and Salesforce.org partnered to provide an inside look at how leading colleges and universities are helping students succeed in their academic endeavors and beyond. We analyzed more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. to understand which institutions do the best job serving students across the student life cycle — from access and affordability through certificate/degree completion to labor market outcomes and improved social mobility — and then we interviewed senior leadership teams at leading colleges and universities to understand the strategies these institutions are deploying to help students succeed.

Female student smiling on university campus
Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education and Salesforce.org surveyed leading colleges and universities to find out how they are helping students succeed in their academic endeavors and beyond

In 5 Strategies for Student Success, we explore how leading institutions are reaching first-generation and low-income learners who are especially at risk.

Our report features examples from colleges and universities of all sizes that are implementing programs to help first-year students develop resilience. For instance, Babson College’s Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship program helps students through the process of learning to fail and then using that as a foundation for future innovation.

“Transformation doesn’t happen easily in higher education, but these extraordinary times have caused many to be more open to doing things differently.”

Other colleges, such as the University of Arizona, are innovating and using technology to help improve the mental health of their students. When the pandemic hit, the University was prepared to implement telehealth technology for remote counseling services.

At Cal State University, Fullerton (CSUF), designated as an Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution, one of their goals is to increase the first-time freshmen four-year graduation rate from 22% to 44% and transfer students’ two-year graduation rate from 32% to 44%. CSUF is seeing strong results, in part due to its increased investments in advising opportunities to counsel students.

Transformation doesn’t happen easily in higher education, but these extraordinary times have caused many to be more open to doing things differently — particularly in the realm of student experience, academic advising, and student mental health. If the mindset can shift and stay, we have the raw materials for lasting change.

We hope this report helps your institutions rethink existing strategies and implement new strategies that will drive success, equity, and future opportunities for your students.

Learn more about how Salesforce.org is helping to drive equity in education, and read the full report on strategies for student success.


About the Author

Betty Fleurimond, Managing Director, Higher Education Practice, Deloitte
Betty Fleurimond
Managing Director, Higher Education Practice, Deloitte
Betty Fleurimond is a managing director in Deloitte’s Higher Education practice with responsibility for market leadership and client relations, nationally. With 23+ years of professional experience, Fleurimond has a strong and proven track record of successfully driving large-scale and complex business strategies across technology, operations, cybersecurity, and strategy and change leadership. Fleurimond also chairs the Deloitte Center for Higher Education Excellence.