Runner-Up – Improving Student Success – Institutional
Velma Bryant – Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Community College created a pilot program in partnership with three high schools (Broadway HS, Buffalo Gap HS and Waynesboro HS) in our service region to help graduating seniors’ transition from high school to Blue Ridge Community College. The Blue Ridge Promise program offers seniors a scholarship for SDV 100: College Student Success that is to be taken during the summer between their senior year and first year of college.
The program was developed in response to the growing number of graduating seniors who registered to attend BRCC, then over the summer dropped from all of their BRCC courses. Realizing this trend, BRCC Career Coaches from the high schools called these dropped students to determine if they were enrolled in another college or if they had obtained employment. During this investigation we learned the majority of these students were sitting at home without college enrollment or employment. Based on these finding, BRCC decided to develop a program to bridge the gap between the end of high school and the beginning of college. We knew an important part of the program needed to be teaching students college success skills, such as; study skills, time management, and stress management. These conversations about student success, summer melt and retention; lead to the creation of the Blue Ridge Promise.
To be eligible for the program students must be graduating seniors from one of the designated schools and registered to attend BRCC in the fall semester. This intensive 4-day summer transition course is designed to help students get to know other BRCC bound students and introduce them to College policies and procedures. Students also have the opportunity get engaged with campus resources that are essential to success, use our Recreation Center, and get a free lunch each day!
Initial data on Blue Ridge Promise demonstrates retention success.
- 93% of the students who participated in Blue Ridge Promise matriculated through the last day to withdraw without a grade penalty.
- 70% of program participants registered for the spring semester course within the first two weeks of open registration.
Connection to VCCS Mission & Complete 2021
The Blue Ridge Promise serves the mission of the VCCS and Complete 2021 by decreasing the number of graduating seniors who registered to attend BRCC and then did not matriculate. The intensive orientation to the campus, student services and resources have helped students to preserve through their first semester of college.
BRCC believes the students that participated in Blue Ridge Promise will have higher retention rates fall to spring semester, as well as, fall to fall semester. We are also predicting higher GPAs among Blue Ridge Promise students versus their peers from the same high schools that did not participate in the program. Both of these factors will lead to more degree completion and credentials.
Applicability Across Disciplines, Units, & Institutions
The Blue Ridge Promise program could be easily duplicated at other VCCS institutions. SDV100: Student College Success is currently being offered on every VCCS campus. This course is a natural foundation for this transition program because of the student success components that are embedded in the curriculum. Cross campus support is needed in order to provide students exposure to student services immediately, as well as financial support.
Creative Nature of Project & Connection to Educational Practices
Offering scholarships for an academic course to all incoming students from a particular high school for is a new concept and is “out of the box” for BRCC. The idea of integrating a student success course with an orientation to student support services at a critical transition time should be considered a best practice. The Blue Ridge Promise allows students to get comfortable with the BRCC campus and front loads study skills that will lead to higher retention rates. The Blue Ridge Promise also gives students the opportunity to address typically first year challenges before the semester starts.
Value Over Time
Blue Ridge Community College will continue to assess the program to ensure the return on investment. The Blue Ridge Promise will increase retention and completion of BRCC students, therefore time and money spent on the program will be regain through degree completion and graduation rates. BRCC will also assess the learning outcomes of the SDV 100 courses. Decisions related to the continuation and expansion of the Blue Ridge Promise program will be in direct result from the data.