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Jan. 25, 2022 — Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education recently analyzed more than 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the United States to understand the strategies they use to help students succeed. The analysis found patterns of success across these institutions focusing on mental health, resiliency, data analytics, the transfer process, and better inclusion for first-generation students.
“While student success is a complex endeavor and no two institutions follow the exact same path, we wanted to understand which institutions are doing a good job across the student life cycle, from access and affordability through graduation and beyond,” said Betty Fleurimond, managing director, Deloitte Services LP and chair of Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence. “We found patterns showing that leading schools invest wisely in strategies that will deliver the best outcomes for their student body, particularly for underrepresented students, Pell Grant recipients, and first-generation students.”
The data — research that Deloitte has made available through an interactive benchmarking tool — reveals leading schools outperforming their peers or other four-year institutions across multiple parameters. The data includes, but is not limited to:
• Enrollment of underrepresented students, Pell Grant recipients, and first-generation students.
• In-state average tuition for full-time students and in-state per-credit-hour charge for part-time undergraduates.
• Six-year graduation rates for underrepresented students and Pell Grant recipients, and eight-year graduation rates for non-first-time, part-time students.
• Median earnings 10 years after entry, 10-year net present value, and three-year cohort default rate.
“When colleges were forced to lean into remote learning during the pandemic, many of them discovered the full functionality of their learning management systems,” Fleurimond explained. “This proved a valuable source of data for understanding engagement and other student success metrics.”
Through the pivot to virtual learning, students’ ongoing challenges with stress and mental health also became measurably apparent.
“Our research shows that 76% of students say they have trouble maintaining their well-being, as do 73% of staff,” said Allan Ludgate, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and director of Deloitte’s Monitor Institute, which works with higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to strengthen student pathways to success.
The pandemic and virtual school environment hit both low-income and first-generation college learners especially hard. Even before the pandemic, these students had a 21% chance of completing a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared to a 66% chance among other students, according to the research.
One-third of first-generation students drop out of college after three years, compared to just 14% of students whose parents earned a degree.
“There is no doubt that the last year has made it even more challenging for students to complete their degrees. But it’s also true that many institutions are now looking for more creative and innovative solutions that can help their students remain successfully enrolled,” Fleurimond said.
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