MTSU's drive toward greater student success is now part of a national online course to guide other institutions toward more efficient advising.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is offering the six-lesson, self-paced course titled "A SMART Approach to Student Success: Strategic Management of Advising Reform and Technology" on its website, www.aplu.org.
Content for the course was gleaned from interviews and information from five institutions of higher learning: Austin Community College in Austin, Texas; Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado; Georgia State University in Atlanta; Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington; and MTSU.
Some 20 members of the MTSU community were interviewed and videotaped for the course, which helps institutions restructure their advising models.
"The course is at minimal expense," said Rick Sluder, vice provost for student success. "It's not something you're going to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do, but ... it's the starting point."
Because the five institutions chosen to provide course content represent a variety of research universities, community colleges, urban universities and institutions serving largely Hispanic populations, Sluder said the course is equally applicable to colleges of all sizes.
"If it really was just about a size issue, those small schools would be sailing," said Sluder. "They'd have retention rates of 90 percent. Their completion rates would be 75 percent. They'd have everything in order."
Since increasing its total number of academic advisers to 78 in 2014 and revamping its approach to advising, MTSU has received exceptional national recognition for its approach to that aspect of improving retention and graduation. Selection for participation in a course that shows other universities how to follow suit is a point of pride for Sluder.
"To be recognized as a national model means everything," said Sluder.
For its participation in the national APLU course, MTSU received 20 site licenses at no charge and a $15,000 stipend. Sluder said the money was set aside for student microgrants. Students facing financial emergencies can apply for microgrants of up to $250 each.