Why Is It Important to Finish College: Essay

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Academic Advising is a complex process that will affect whether a student will be successful at a university or not ​(Balenger & Sedlacek, 1991). Good academic advising involves 'the dissemination of educational and career-related information students confronted who are in the process of developing and creating academic and career plans. One of the main ways for academic advising to be successful is constant contact between advisor and advisee while creating goals and milestones in areas related to academic, vocational, and personal issues so the student may find academic and continued success.

There has been a new focus on the American Higher Education arena. That focus is on student success. Current research suggests that higher education retention can never be the primary aim when supporting students because if retention is the primary goal, then there is never a motivation to graduate. College student success is and should be a goal of all involved with higher education.

College must first be accessible to all. In order for colleges to be accessible to all, they must be affordable. If you look at the past five years, the rising costs of college have fallen on the shoulders of students and families. Next higher education institutions must not only teach their students, but they must also engage their students outside of class. When thinking of student engagement, previous research shows that college students, more specifically freshmen and sophomore students need to be engaged in their educational experience to perform better, to not only have greater learning gains but also achieve higher levels of success.

When we think about student success, they are merely two simple words that when used together become a powerful, force-changing goal for the American Higher Education System. This goal comes to fruition in many different methods and ways and varies by institution. Some institutions focus on special populations of students choosing to create programs that focus on their success such as increasing first-year student retention rates and creating summer bridge programs that provide a space for historically underrepresented students. First-year experience programs that work in tandem with freshman orientation and other new student activities that ensure new student’s success on campus. There are many types of special student populations that make up the American Higher Education system, they include but are not limited to juvenile delinquents, incarcerated males, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or LGBTQ youth, and non-traditional learners and adult students. There is one single thing they have in common that student success personnel should pay attention to; There is not a single student in all of higher education who does not want to be successful, or who has the idea that they just want to fail. When it comes to student success every institution in the American Higher Education system, large publics, small privates, minority-serving, community colleges, technical and trade, and even online and for-profit institutions want each and everyone wants their student to succeed. When it comes to student success there are many different contributing factors.

We know that all students want to succeed, but too many do not, and the causes are not all their own fault. There are many many reasons that students aren't successful and some are successful. While most will students find it rewarding to establish meaningful supportive relationships with university faculty and staff (Strayhorn, 2011), some students find frequent and personal interactions with faculty and staff, intrusive and overwhelming. Practitioners in higher education should know that college student success is a function of many factors inside and outside of a student's scholastic life. The success of college students is just a function of the many processes of higher education and in regard to that success, it is important to note that academic preparation prior to college, usually via programs like dual enrollment, and early college programs plays a relatively minor part of that research (Strayhorn, 2011).

Registering for courses, securing financial aid, developing strong study skills, and mastering difficult courses are independent factors that contribute to college student success. Students must learn to overcome these small but sometimes very obscure roadblocks in order to finish college and move on to their first career. College student success professionals must now think about the holistic development of their students Research on college retention and student support services now that students develop as the whole person as they progress through and complete their college experience and those professionals must be able to help each step of the way.

Diversity is important to college student success. One of the main and most important steps in college student success is access to higher education. The current feeling of our nation and the American Higher Education system is that college should be accessible to all who want it. There have been several movements to expand access to higher education and most have been successful. Today there are about 25 million students enrolled in the American Higher Education System, and those students are spread among 4, 300 institutions of higher education (Cornman, Young, & Herrell, 2012).

Women now are the new majority of students in higher education. This a change as history shows the American Higher Education System was once dominated by men. About a fifth of all new college students are identified as first-generation college students, meaning they are the first in their families to pursue a college degree. Racial minorities also now make up a greater part of the American Higher Education System. This is more than ever possible as throughout history blacks were barred from college education and education in general. As our campuses are becoming more diverse college student success professionals now must make sure that first-generation students, low-income students, women, students of color, veterans, and LGBTQ students all are welcome to campus, feel as if they belong, and are set to academic success and lifelong success (Drake, 2011).

College student success professionals are responsible or should be for building bridges to success for all students no matter what labels of diversity a student may have. Merely getting students to a higher education institution means nothing if they don’t feel like they belong and if they are not successful. We must remember that access without success is useless and pointless, but access with diversity and success is priceless.

Academic advising regardless of institutional type or the make-up of the student body has an important impact on college student success. Research has shown that that many students who are the happiest successful academically are those who have developed a solid relationship with an academic advisor, a faculty member, or just someone who can and is willing to listen to their concerns and help them navigate their college experience.

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What exactly constitutes good sound academic advising that can lead to college student success? Joe Cuseo reminds us that any definition of advising “must be guided by a clear vision of what ‘good’ or ‘quality’ advising actually is—because if we cannot define it, we cannot recognize it when we see it, nor can we assess it or improve it” (Cuseo, 2003, p. 13).

Over the past few years, we have started to look at academic advising as a prescriptive role, or catering to the direct needs of students, or simply put - meeting students where they are at. We have begun to find out that while academic advising is more than emphasizing registration and record keeping, while purposely neglecting attention to our student’s educational needs and the personal experiences that our students are having in the institution, advisors are missing a tremendous chance to influence directly and immediately the success of college students.

In Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2005), the author stresses the point that while academics matter while a student is in college, just as important are the efforts of college student professionals task of connecting students to the campus and having meaningful relationships with your students is (Whitt, Kinzie, Schuh, & Kuh, 2008).

The word culture has several meanings. In the context of the American Higher Education System, culture refers to attributes of a particular group as well—its beliefs, arts, music, cuisine, institutions, and customs. Higher education from a college student success view also has it own culture. For example, acronyms like NASPA, ACPA, ASHE, and NACA, are mean something to student affairs professionals in the higher education landscape. Some believe that shared beliefs also make up the culture of higher education. A good example would be that student affairs professionals, advisors, and college student success professionals all hold the same belief of “our students first” and this belief is important when thinking about college student success.

What constitutes college student success? Defining this coined term is the first step in understanding and advancing “college student success” in the American Higher Education System. Personal validation. College student success is more likely to happen when the students themselves feel as if they matter and they belong. Self-efficacy students obtain more success when they feel their individual voices are heard and their efforts matter. Personal Meaning When students find meaning in their college experience and see how their efforts will pay off, they are more apt to be retained and achieve academic success. Active Involvement. Out of all the college student research available one of the most tested and proven theories is involvement. The probability of student success increases commensurately with the degree or depth of student engagement in the learning process, i.e., the amount of time and energy that students invest in the college experience—both inside and outside the classroom (Boyer, 1986).

While the literature offers no specific terms that define college student success it does define college student success as; practices and programs that most effectively implement the central principles of student success are those that validate students as individuals, generate a sense of relevance or purpose, balance challenge with support, and encourage students to learn in a manner that is active, interactive, reflective, and mindful (Cuseo, 2003).

Higher education institutions are responsible for environments that are enriched for college student success. Most importantly in the context of this paper advising students for success is very critical as the institutions that make up the American Higher Education System are trying to raise their enrollment numbers and improve their degree attainment rates so that they can be autonomous and independent in the fiscal matters. Academic Advising for college student success has always been an important and challenging task in higher education. It is important because it is related to the student’s success, satisfaction, and retention - the very fundamentals of why most students go to college in the first place. Interaction between college student success professionals and students is very vital for college student success, it is critically important to the student development process. Research shows that learning is a social process, therefore the relationships that students have while enrolled in college affect their success. Relationships specifically those those with college student success professionals —are one of the most powerful tools that aid in a student’s personal and professional development.

It was once thought that college student success professionals, were responsible for helping students navigate academic rules and regulations. These often underpaid staff members are expected to share their knowledge of major and degree requirements, help students schedule their courses, and generally facilitate progress to a degree in a timely manner, however, there is more than this in ensuring our college students achieve success. College student success professionals must now do more than advice about classes they must be an individual with very strong written and oral communication and organizational skills, be very good at communication and collaboration skills, and must be proven problem solver who understands the culture of a college/university. This professional must be willing to help to look at how they can help the whole student with all pieces of their educational journey.

College student success is more than the student’s success it is the success of the entire institution. Academic advisors or these new student success specialists should recognize higher education as a culture and know something about the adventure called higher learning. These advisors should hold high, but attainable, expectations for all students and be ready and able to help their students succeed these professionals care about their students and they find creative and meaningful ways that students matter.

Higher education is a pivotal moment right now. No more is acceptable to just help students get by. The students and families are holding inustions accountable for their student success. They expect these institutions to know their students—their names, where they are from, what they bring with them, and their strengths and weaknesses. Some individuals in higher education think meeting students where they are at, but this is advising in its purest form. Academic Advisors help students navigate college by making clear what students need to know and do to be successful, they help students find a sense of belonging on campus. One of the main ways for academic advising to be successful is constant contact between advisor and advisee while creating goals and milestones in areas related to academic, vocational, and personal issues so the student may find academic and continued success.


    1. Balenger, V. J., & Sedlacek, W. E. (1991). The Volunteer Potential of First-time Entering Students: Interest Areas and Incentives. Journal of The Freshman Year Experience, 3(1), 59.
    2. Boyer, C. M. (1986). Achieving Educational Excellence: A Critical Assessment of Priorities and Practices in Higher Education. The Journal of Higher Education, 57(3), 324–327.
    3. Cornman, S. Q., Young, J., & Herrell, K. C. (2012). Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2009-10 (Fiscal Year 2010). First Look. NCES 2013-305. National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED537441.pdf
    4. Cuseo, J. (2003). Assessment of academic advisors and academic advising programs. Retrieved June, 10, 2008.
    5. Drake, J. K. (2011). The Role of Academic Advising in Student Retention and Persistence. About Campus, 16(3), 8–12.
    6. Strayhorn, T. L. (2011). Bridging the Pipeline: Increasing Underrepresented Students’ Preparation for College Through a Summer Bridge Program. The American Behavioral Scientist, 55(2), 142–159.
    7. Whitt, E. J., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Kuh, G. D. (2008). Assessing Conditions to Enhance Student Success: How Six Campuses Got Started. About Campus, 13(3), 9–18.
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