College wins $2.1M federal grant for advising system


Courtesy GRCC

A local college has received a $2.1 million federal grant to create a more personalized and effective student advising system.

Grand Rapids Community College was one of three Michigan colleges and the only in West Michigan college to receive the five-year 2019 Strengthening Institutions Program grant, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

GRCC said it will use the money to transform its student support efforts to make academic advising more productive, while leveraging technology to create a more comprehensive approach to addressing a variety of student needs.

Eric Mullen, GRCC’s dean of student success and retention, said busy schedules often make it challenging for students to book appointments with academic advisers. Many students use drop-in hours, when advisers might not have adequate time or enough information about the student to have the most productive session.

Using new technologies funded by the grant, GRCC expects to create a system in which student data is collected and available through a single interface, so counselors can have detailed information available, and students can connect in a variety of ways and at times more convenient to them.

The system will use the data to analyze student performance, monitor for indications of struggles and suggest targeted interventions and support.

A mobile app will give students access to on-demand support.

“This is a game-changer,” Mullen said. “We’re focused on building a system to help us guide students along their path to graduation.

“But also, we want to more quickly catch problems as they arise and direct students to resources to help them overcome obstacles. That could be an academic success coach or help with food insecurity or anything else that can become a barrier to success.”

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