Would it surprise you to know that only 55%* of students who start college actually finish and earn a degree? Unfortunately it’s true. Most of those who drop out do so in their first year, but why and what can be done about it?
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is dedicated to finding out and changing that statistic. In fact, they’ve developed a program called “Re-Imaging The First Year Of College” with the goal of ensuring success for all students.
What better way to gather data than by creating a real-time mural illustrating student’s concerns, goals, and how they’ll overcome challenges? Metro State University in Denver and AASCU brought me in to do exactly that on the first two days of school this year. We were able to talk to students directly and capture their thoughts live and in the moment.
One thing I hadn’t thought about but was a common theme was the fear of not being able to make friends. It makes sense though, because we all need support in order to succeed and moving into a new environment means having to create a new friend group.
There were a lot of unexpected comments, and the resulting 4’x16’ mural provides AASCU with the data they need to help them reach their goal.
Here’s what Dr. Lunden MacDonald, director of First Year Success Program at MSU had to say about it:
"It was a pleasure to collaborate with Alece on a project designed to capture my students’ voice in a mural that will impact change agency in higher education. Alece and I worked closely to imagine what representational strategies would best reflect the research data my team collected on the spot, and the resulting mural now provides an invaluable perspective on our research and will inform the direction of our future work with students. On top of that, literally hundreds of students pass by the mural each day and admire how great their own words look! Thanks for the amazing experience and product, Alece!"
*National Student Clearinghouse