Strong Start To Finish

Use data effectively.

Every student is supported to stay on track to a college credential, from intake forward, through the institution’s use of effective mechanisms to generate, share and act on academic performance and progression data.

It is a great start for institutions to have programs organized by broad academic focus areas (meta-majors) and pathways to and through gateway courses and other milestones aligned with specific career and further education goals. It is even better to have students choosing a direction and being placed early into relevant gateway courses with embedded support. The “third leg of the stool” is providing mechanisms for helping students stay on a path to completing their chosen programs of study and for providing support early on, before problems emerge.

Some institutions may need to rethink the roles and organizational relationships among academic departments and workforce programs, student services and institutional research. Other institutions may need to rethink advising and the monitoring of student performance. The enhancement of institutional research in the service of campus and system improvement initiatives is essential.

Fortunately, a growing number of postsecondary institutions and systems are making impressive progress on the analytics of student success. These institutions have lessened the distance between research and practice in American higher education. They can serve as a beacon for all institutions striving to achieve their missions and increase their students’ success.


Fletcher, J. & Karp, M. (2015). “Using Technology to Reform Advising: Insights from Colleges.” CCRC Lessons-From-Research Guide. New York, NY: Columbia University, Teachers College, Community College Research Center.

Garcia, J., Huckaby, H., Morgan, J., & Jones, S. (July, 2015). “Corequisite Remediation.” Complete College America. Presented at the annual meeting of State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, Santa Fe, NM.

Yeado, J., Haycock, K., Johnstone, R., & Chaplot, P. (2014). “Learning from High-Performing and Fast-Gaining Institutions.” Washington, DC: The Education Trust.

Implementation Guides

Arizona State University. Pathway Tracker.

Georgia State University. GPS Advising.

University of Georgia. DegreeWorks.