Anna drake warshaw

Seniors

Over the past three years, UIA campuses have awarded over $3 million in completion grants to more than 4,000 low-income students. If you’re considering implementing new types of just-in-time financial aid (such as completion grants, retention grants, or emergency aid) at your institution, here are four key lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Chatbots

Before the global pandemic, the UIA launched a project to scale the use of chatbot technology to support student success. We wanted to understand how artificial intelligence like chatbots could improve access to information in areas like admissions, financial aid, and student services. As it turns out, in this time of COVID-19, UIA campuses that participated in the chatbot project have found their chatbots particularly helpful in keeping students up-to-date on health information and policy changes.

Spring Virtual Convening

Last week, 130 UIA campus colleagues and partners joined our first-ever virtual convening. The two-day online event focused on how UIA campuses are adapting their student success work amidst COVID-19, what we’re learning from our completion grants and college-to-career projects, and an array of breakout topics related to online student success, digital student engagement, analytics, and supporting vulnerable students during and after COVID-19.

Covid 19 Remote Learning

At the UIA, we’re committed to eliminating gaps in college attainment by race and income. While equity in higher education is the focus of our work, the COVID-19 crisis has broken longstanding systemic inequities wide open for all to see. Coverage in the New York Times and the Atlantic highlights how the pandemic disproportionately affects the most vulnerable students on college campuses. 

Change Management

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a movement in higher education to do a better job supporting student success and graduating students across the socioeconomic spectrum - particularly low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color. Here at the UIA we’ve been leading that effort, but change is difficult, especially at large institutions. So, along the way, we’ve picked up an array of insights about what makes change possible in the higher ed environment.

Fear Most Graduating

Caitlin is a senior business major who hopes to work in the tech industry. She works full-time to offset tuition and living expenses. She’s afraid she can’t balance her immediate financial needs with pursuing a job change after college.

Sam is a Biology major preparing for dental school, but he really loves music. The four-year degree he’s pursuing is primarily to please and provide for his mother. A Caribbean student from a lower-income family, Sam is afraid he’ll regret not pursuing his passion.

Low Tech Change

When we talk about how to make higher education more student centric, we talk a lot about innovation. Innovation, however, isn’t synonymous with technology. In fact, a lot of the improvements we test and adopt across the UIA are simple, low tech changes aimed at simplifying the systems students navigate every day.

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