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Holistic Student Supports

On Indigenous Peoples Day, ATD celebrates the leadership and innovation of TCUs

News & Updates
October 10, 2022

For five years, Achieving the Dream has partnered with 33 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to support their student success work. TCUs act as important community hubs, not just for higher education opportunities but for cultural and economic enrichment throughout the communities they serve.

In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we’re highlighting stories from the last year that showcase just some of the ways TCUs in the Network are driving transformation that supports their students’ success. To learn more about our ongoing partnerships with tribal colleges, click here.

Redesigning advising to better support students

To achieve their goal of “making dreams happen,” Stone Child College in Montana redesigned its academic advising process to increase student success. Previously, students struggled through an onboarding and registration process in which advising was only offered at the start of the fall term, resulting in bottlenecks at the beginning of the semester and limiting students’ ability to plan ahead.

The leadership team created an advising reform subcommittee which designated faculty and staff volunteers as co-advisors, who were equipped with study plans, training, and protocols to support first-year advising. Co-advisors met with students before they started their first semester, giving students additional time to plan their academic and personal schedules. Shortly after the co-advisor program was launched, Stone Child College scaled it to meet students’ shifting needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Administrators have found that this new framework allows closer connection between advisors and students, building trust and a stronger framework of support for students.

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Using data to drive institutional change

Across the ATD Network, college teams use Achieving the Dream’s Institutional Capacity & Assessment Tool (ICAT) to assess strengths and opportunities for growth. In 2020, Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) in Minnesota took the ICAT for a second time and compared their results to the initial 2017 assessment. The results showed marked improvements across the institution — five of seven capacity areas had improved, and the comparison analysis prompted the college to ramp up strategic efforts to support community vitality.

Two leaders from LLTC spoke to ATD about the leadership strategies and cultural changes that contributed to the college’s improved ICAT results, and why a culture of evidence and inquiry has been essential to their efforts.

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Getting to know students better, faster

To empower students as leaders in the workplace and in the community, United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) in North Dakota works to provide students with timely access to the individualized supports they require to thrive. But the college found identifying each student’s needs early in their academic experience challenging.

As part of their work with ATD through the Serving Native American Students with Holistic Student Supports Project, UTTC developed a new-student intake survey which helped the college quickly and thoroughly understand each new student’s situation, connect them with the services needed to succeed, and build the foundation for a solid student-advisor relationship. Insights gleaned from this story have proven extremely valuable for first-year advisors and have ensured students are connected to support and resource throughout their tenure at the college.

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A leader’s perspective

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Minnesota was the first TCU in the ATD Network to become a Leader College, earning the designation in 2021. In September the college’s president, Stephanie Hammitt, authored a guest post on our blog to talk about the significant strides the college has taken to help students reach their goals.

“Grounded by our mission, we have always been mindful of the educational opportunity gaps that some of our students face, in particular our Native American students. Through our work with ATD, we have drilled down into our data to determine where our attention should be focused and we have reviewed outcomes of our work to determine whether we have moved the needle and shown improvement.”

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