Wallace State

Wallace State Community College was awarded a five-year $2.1 million Title III grant by the U.S. Department of Education that will enhance student success through Pathways Linking U to Success (PLUS).

Project PLUS is geared to helping students complete a certificate or degree.

“We know that students benefit from earning a postsecondary degree or credential through improved employment opportunities and increased lifetime earnings potential, and the effect is generational. Families and communities, our state, and nation also benefit,” said Dr. Vicki Karolewics, president of Wallace State. “Wallace State has long been committed to student success. Our student success rates are among the highest in the country and have resulted in our being named a three-time Aspen Prize semi-finalist, and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. But there is so much more we can do to ensure every student has the resources and support they need to make success possible. This grant, which we are so honored to receive, will truly help us move the needle.” 

More than half of the college’s first-time freshmen are academically underprepared, economically disadvantaged, and/or first-generation college students. Institutional and published data suggests that these students are most likely to drop-out, stop-out, or fail resulting in low retention, graduation, transfer, and employment rates.

Project PLUS is an integration of interventions from What Works Clearing House’s InsideTrack Coaching and Single Stop USA’s Community College Initiative, Achieving the Dream’s Holistic Student Supports, and Complete College America’s Pathways to Success.

It includes shifting the frontline success advising and financial aid staff from a transactional relationship with students to that of a case management approach. Success Advising expands to include the intervention elements recommended in What Works Clearing Houses’ InsideTrack Coaching model throughout the student lifecycle. It implements Achieving the Dream’s Holistic Student Supports Redesign, and revises student onboarding to include success predictors. The project also updates both adjunct and full-time faculty professional development to better support student success. 

Project PLUS’s success will be determined by steady improvements in each of the following student success milestones: fall-to-fall retention, successful completion of 30 or more semester credit hours, and degree/certificate completion within the time frame allowed for federal financial aid, known as the 150 percent rule.

This work complements recent initiatives related to student success, including the college’s designation as a Caring Campus, success advising through the Center for Student Success, and the addition of work-based learning opportunities across the curriculum.

Students interested in starting college this fall still have time to enroll at Wallace State. A second 8-week mini-term begins Oct. 14. Learn more at wallacestate.edu.

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