How Do You Really Know if a Student is At Risk? How John Carroll University is Looking into This

young male student using his laptop in a campus learning space.
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What is an at-risk student? And is just measuring persistence enough? What are the most critical indicators to track?


The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

This was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

John Carroll University has been working to improve student success measures for low-income students: work they've already seen pay off among their students who receive Pell Grants. On average, there is a 5.7 percentage point gap in the graduation rates of students who receive Pell Grants and those who do not, but at JCU there is no gap at all. JCU’s Pell Grant students also boast a six-year graduation rate of 75 percent vs. the national average of 51 percent.

This fall, JCU received a $1.3 million First in the World grant to analyze additional factors that could be considered when identifying at-risk students, and to integrate support for those students with linked learning communities. We talked with Terry Mills, assistant provost for diversity and inclusion, and First in the World Project Director to learn more about linked learning communities, student thriving, and their research on at-risk factors.

Their approach is both comprehensive and deeply data-informed, and we think other institutions will want to watch their project closely.

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