These days, higher education folks talk a lot about student success: everyone should have it, not everyone has it right now, and we should be improving and measuring it. Sounds good, right? But, what does student success actually mean? I want to look at it from a couple of perspectives.
Colleges and universities, as well as higher education associations, have championed student success in recent years. There are committees, positions, offices, etc. with student success in the name. There are books and articles, podcasts and webinars, and white papers and conferences to look at the issue. I am going to oversimplify (apologies to those who are deep in this work) what I see from this perspective. From the macro view, it can be boiled down to new undergraduate students (probably first year) returning for their second year and then graduating in four years. None of that is a bad thing, in theory, at the macro level. Institutions want to retain students and get them to the graduation stage because not only is it (usually) the right thing to do, it also makes sense for economic and accountability reasons. For example, the Texas A&M 2020-2025 Strategic Plan has a goal to increase first-year retention to 95% with a stretch goal of 97%, and increase the four-year graduation rate to 65% with a stretch goal of 70%.