Mt. Hood Community College staff, faculty, and students are working to provide students with an entirely new experience during their first term of college. This initiative – called the New Student Experience (NSE) – will establish a central space where
students will have access to support staff, complete all their steps to get started, and get connected to college services in one stop. The goal of the New Student Experience is to re-design new student onboarding at Mt. Hood Community College to
increase student retention and completion.
The NSE project kicked off last summer. The initiative is being spearheaded by the college’s Title III Mt. Hood Institutional Retention Initiative (MHIRI) team. The MHIRI was formed out of a five-year, $2.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant.
Dispersed in $430,000 annual payments, the grant began in October 2016.
“That’s a big part of why we’re beginning this work now,” said Matt Farina, MHCC’s Director of Retention. “We have these funds that we need to use to increase student retention and degree completion. And an essential key to retaining new students
is to support them during that critical first year.”
In 2014, when the Title III grant was written, MHCC’s fall term-to-fall term retention rate was 52 percent and the college’s graduation rates hovered around 18 percent. MHIRI maintains goals of increasing retention to 59 percent, and graduation rates
to 26 percent, by 2021.
To help increase retention, MHCC will establish a centralized Student Services Hub located in the current Student Services office and adjacent areas. The “Hub” will be built over the summer and open for fall term 2018. It will encompass all the services,
along with support personnel, that current or prospective students may need, including Financial Aid, Advising, Registration, and Orientation. Most importantly, the Hub will serve as a wayfinding place for all students who may have questions,
need help finding resources, or require assistance in getting started.
“We’re using a collaborative approach to build the Hub and NSE components,” said Nancy Gomez-Sewell, Title III Project Coordinator at MHCC. “We have five teams comprised of MHCC staff and faculty from across the college.”
“The Title III team has conducted over 65 one-on-one interviews with faculty and staff, and hosted more than 12 departmental staff input sessions,” added Gomez-Sewell. “Additionally, the Title III team has compiled data from 450-plus student surveys
and held focus groups for 250-plus students, to determine their central needs.”
Other components of the NSE include designing a “Getting Started Guide,” a print and digital communication tool designed to guide students through key steps to get started. Additionally, the NSE initiative will consolidate the college’s orientation
events and offer three orientation options, starting this summer. These events will include:
- Student Orientation Online, Get Started: A fast and simple introduction to the MHCC procedure and services.
- Students Orientation Bridge, Get Connected: An intensive multi-day orientation to give college students the inside scoop on how to get the most out of MHCC.
- Student Orientation Day, Get Ready: A one-day orientation and celebration that brings the whole MHCC campus together for food, fun, and a solid foundation for getting started.
Interested in learning more about MHCC’s new student retention initiatives? Visit mhcc.edu/StudentRetention for information on the NSE projects and other initiatives.