A recent report released by Tyton Partners found that institutions with integrated student supports, as a whole, demonstrate higher rates of retention and completion. Not coincidentally, more institutions are working towards such an integrated model of student support, in which services, including academic advising, teaching, career services, financial aid & literacy, and student life, are no longer siloed and instead collaborate as a cohesive support and enrichment system for students. The report, Driving Towards a Degree, found that the dominant challenges institutions face in endeavoring to integrate student supports are, “limited direct engagement and limited regular coordination between stakeholders.” For institutions that have been successful in integrating student supports, the primary institutional structural adjustment Tyton identifies as underlying the improved outcomes is an “integration of advising technology into a single product from one company.”
In Driving Towards a Degree, the University of Virginia is profiled as an institution that has successfully integrated student supports. UVA developed their Total Advising Initiative as part of the university’s strategic plan in 2017. Soon after, they partnered with uConnect, a platform designed to integrate resources, tools, and technologies into a single intelligent digital space. On the Total Advising platform, students, professors, advisors, and the entire UVA community find the resources and information they need in areas such as academics, career pathways, finances, and student identity groups. Visiting the platform, students can see the full range of supports available to them, an improvement which is tangible -- easier access and greater visibility of information -- and also conceptual; by integrating supports, UVA demonstrates that the institution is committed to supporting each student holistically, viewing every individual as a whole with a myriad of interconnected needs, rather than a disparate collection of parts that each required a siloed support.
Download Driving Towards a Degree here: http://drivetodegree.org/
To see UVA’s digital space for integrated student supports, visit https://advising.virginia.edu/