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  • Writer's pictureStudent-Ready Strategies

Institutions are Under Too Much Pressure with Too Little Support. We've Built a Tool to Help.

Colleges and universities are under pressure to evolve - and fast. In the face of impending demographic changes, glaring social and economic disparities, scrutiny from state and local leaders, and increasing competition to enroll and retain students, having the right structure, policy, and process in place to ensure equitable student success is a must. 

The pressure is real, and it is felt daily by higher educational professionals. Institutions are funded and staffed to run day-to-day operations, so the work of transforming structure, policy, and process often falls into the category of “other duties as assigned,” and the most passionate, student-focused professionals are rewarded with a much longer to-do list. Unless they have pots of unused money sitting around for additional staff and expert consultants - which they don’t - they must either work to the point of burnout or let their student success goals fall by the wayside. This is not because they do not feel the moral imperative or care deeply about students; there are simply limits to their personal capacity, and the collective capacity at institutions.

We have seen this phenomenon persist, and seen it perpetuated by consultants and technical assistance providers that have been slow to change how they structure and deliver services. At SRS, we have followed traditional service delivery models as well. But we also looked in the mirror and examined whether our approaches were living up to our values and meeting the pressing need to serve more institutions and do so more efficiently and effectively. We know traditional ways of doing this type of business are time-intensive, expensive, and difficult to scale. Institutions choose from consulting they can’t afford, free online toolkits that don’t contain actual tools, and sample documents from one institution that don’t make sense for another. For most institutions, there isn’t an affordable and accessible resource that takes them from the starting gate to the finish line.

Acknowledging that the consulting status quo cannot and should not be scaled, we created a new model for institutional support that is accessible, affordable, and effective. 

It is called ConstellationEd, and it is a virtual platform that delivers similar outcomes to a comprehensive, high-touch consulting service. It:

  • Guides the project team through a proven change management process

  • Informs the design of the new structure or program

  • Cultivates support with diverse stakeholders

  • Creates the documents - e.g., policy language, slide decks, student handouts, press releases - that pave the path of progress

But unlike a high-touch consulting service, ConstellationEd delivers these outcomes through a web-based platform that puts institutional teams in the driver’s seat and automates the teaching, advice, and processes that are replicable, while preserving the valuable human interaction with SRS experts for when it is most needed. It is more self-directed than a traditional consulting contract, but it still saves significant time and effort for institutions, and creates space for collaboration and collective ownership of the strategy and its successes.

In early 2024, we will do an initial launch of the platform to help institutions with two specific structures proven to get big improvements in outcomes for marginalized students:

  • Credit for Prior Learning, which grants college credits for the learning that adult students have gained through work and military service.

  • Multiple Measures for English and Math Placement, which places many more students in college-level courses and improves retention and completion for those historically deemed “underprepared.”

Our initial launch is an exclusive opportunity, limited to 20 institutions nationwide, that will receive extra support, a reduced price, and national recognition as ConstellationEd’s Early Adopters. To be considered, institutions should complete the brief online interest form. Selections will be made in mid-January. 

We are truly excited about the promise of ConstellationEd to be able to deliver high-quality, accessible, and affordable support to all the institutions currently feeling the pressure, but lacking the support they need. This moves us close to the vision we share with so many of you: that we intentionally transform to ensure every student can succeed - institution by institution, toward a student-ready world.

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