University College (UC) hosted the fifth annual meeting of the University Partners for Online Education Strategies (UP Online) on Nov. 9, 2018. The annual meeting brings together regional colleagues working in online education to share ideas, address common problems, build networks and support professional development. Educators and administrators from 11 four-year higher education institutions gathered for the program that featured Jasmeial “Jazz” Jackson, associate dean of First Year Experience and Retention Programs at Southern New Hampshire University.

Jackson talked about the challenges in retaining students. “This is a challenge for all institutions serving an online population that are balancing competing priorities,” he said. Barriers that contribute to poor retention include student motivation, mindset, work-life balance, and finances.

Jackson said in order to retain online students institutions must remain involved and supportive. Studies show that such strategies as student integration and engagement, learner-centered approaches, learning communities and accessibility to online student services will promote student success.

Retention efforts at University College span several departments. UC has always been a “high-touch” institution that supports its diverse population. The student services office has certified life coaches that take a holistic approach to advising. This form of advising takes into account the students’ academic and life goals, and situational issues such as financial aid, childcare and tutoring needs.

Student success coordinators in the Office of Student Success ensure student persistence through proactive engagement. The coordinators do not wait for a student to reach the point of failure; they address issues and barriers before they lead to a student withdrawing from classes. “We provide an exceptional and approachable atmosphere where students can feel connected to their support network and know that someone can get their questions answered,” says Liz Green, director of the Student Success Office. “As our online programs continue to grow, we anticipate we will expand our initiatives to empower students to embrace their academic and personal goals.”

For more information about academic support services at University College, contact 315.443.3261 or email parttime.syr.edu.