Student interactions with their academic environment including faculty, peers, and student support professionals has repeatedly been linked to a variety of educational outcomes including retention and persistence (Astin, 1977; Tinto, 1987, 2006, 2012; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). The Student Success Center at the University of South Carolina has developed and piloted a comprehensive retention initiative designed to personally connect students at a large research institution with resources as they navigate the rigor of the University. Success Connect is a multi-tiered program consisting of 1) outreach to engage faculty and the assignment of a Success Consultant to all first-year students, 2) an early alert component that includes students referred by faculty and those in target populations, 3) behavior and skill-based interventions via one-on-one consultations with a Success Consultant and referrals to center and campus resources, and 4) follow-up with students and faculty. Throughout this process, Success Consultants utilize a combination of the “action-oriented” model of intrusive advising (Earl, n.d.) with the theory-to-practice framework of Appreciative Advising (Bloom, Hutson, & He, 2008) to aid students in designing a plan for academic success. This paper describes an approach that can be adapted and implemented by student support professionals at any institution.
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