Southwestern College

Scott Finn (sfinn@swccd.edu)

While Southwestern College has had success leveraging its orientation offerings to guide recent high school graduates through the registration process and program discovery, it has faced a substantial and persistent gap between the number of students who enroll and the number of students who register for classes in its overall population. To address this issue, the college has recently focused on developing differentiated orientation processes that adapt and scale the practices that have been so successful with graduating high school seniors.

Entering students who have recently graduated from high school have access to two Southwestern College programs, the Early Admission Program and the Peer Ambassador Program. Together, these programs work to ease the transition from high school to college by offering students in-person assistance as they complete the requisite steps to enroll and register. Having identified this prime benefit of its Early Admission Program and Peer Ambassador Program, Southwestern College has begun to shift orientation offerings for its general population to feature smaller, higher-touch events and more consistent outreach.

Moreover, Southwestern College will begin offering additional orientation programming for specific populations of students (e.g., LGBTQ, veterans, Restorative Justice, etc.) to supplement the general orientation process. To facilitate this process, the college will also establish refined tracking, referral, and follow-up services for all students.

The Southwestern College team hopes to build on these foundational steps toward differentiated orientation by taking into account the two key lessons they have taken away from this process to date:

  • All Student Support Services personnel need to be trained to have a comprehensive understanding of the breadth of student service offerings, so that they don’t have to redirect students who come to them with questions
  • Understanding that modes of delivery matter, so student feedback will inform adjustments to the use of video, text, and face-to-face options for orientation

They also hope to learn from other institutions as they develop and refine their own differentiated orientation programs.

Video Highlights from February 25, 2019 Community of Practice Meeting

Prioritizing one-on-one experiences

Scaling up effective processes to boost registration numbers

Giving a more personal welcome to special populations