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Student Service Program to Improve Graduation Research Paper

The following student services program is intended to increase graduation and retention rates for low-income college students. The program will include access to and assistance with informational technology, application for the scholarship and financial aid, improved academic advising and counseling, promotion of advanced academic practices, and a dedicated space for communication with the local community and peers.


Low-income students are an underrepresented academic subgroup that remains beyond the scope of changes observed in the domain of education (Kezar, 2010). The newly taken direction taken by the higher education institutions pursues diversification of the student base. However, the criteria used to define diversification commonly exclude socioeconomic class and focus on ethnicity, gender, and, to a lesser degree, sexual orientation. At the same time, well-being remains an important determinant of academic success.

Numerous studies point to the fact that unlike the achievement gap associated with ethnic and racial characteristics, the socioeconomic gap has grown in the later years, transforming into one of the most significant barriers to evenly distributed multicultural education. It is also important to note that low income is an obstacle that is unlikely to be alleviated through interventions aimed solely at students and requires the partnership with family members, peers, and coordination of efforts across the program (Weissman et al., 2009).


The program will consist of four principal components.

Financial Aid

Higher education has a certain financial threshold that restricts the participation of the poorest population. To successfully overcome this barrier, services programs routinely include scholarships and other financial incentives for students that display high academic performance. To ensure the proper utilization of the provided funds, the scholarship will be accompanied by the counseling service that would offer advice on the most viable direction for investment and assist those unfamiliar with the process in the technical complexities of payments and funds management. The payments will be automatized wherever possible to minimize the time required for manual execution. In this way, the students will be provided with the necessary funds and a sufficient degree of freedom to decide on the most feasible areas of academic performance.

A similar model has been proven to work in the past. According to Marlowe, Tincher-Ladner, King, and Boggs (2016), a scholarship program for the low-income students implemented in Phi Theta Kappa community has resulted in the completion rate of 68 percent. This is five percent higher than the national aggregated average of 63 percent (with the disaggregated results probably being even lower).

Academic and Career Advising

Academic performance depends on several factors, some of which are less evident to the students. Aside from the subject-related areas, these factors include the ability to connect the goals with routine actions and familiarity with the college culture. The program will include several educational events oriented towards college students as well as high school students aiming at receiving higher education. Such a long-range approach would allow future students to engage in consistent planning, reach the sufficient preparedness level, and get familiarized with the academic environment (Thompson, 2016). In the long run, such familiarity would allow them to make more relevant career choices and apply the received knowledge in practice.

Informational Technology

The current generation of students is highly familiar with the opportunities provided by the Internet. Also, technological development has enabled even the low-income class to obtain the required equipment. Despite this, the students routinely lack the understanding of the academic requirements for the digitally obtained information. To account for this, the program will ensure seamless access to computer labs and provide support for students seeking guidance and experiencing difficulties with the use of the software. In this way, the possibility that students would be unable to gain access to the necessary resources would be minimized.

Community Collaboration

The implications of low socioeconomic status reach beyond the academic space and require an equally encompassing approach for a successful alleviation. The program will promote coordinated collaboration with the local community to promote engagement among students and encourage aspirations that would later serve as a guide for identifying academic goals and objectives (ACT, 2016). Another major benefit of such collaboration is the ability to partner with local employers, which would provide the graduates with relevant career prospects and enable communication between the stakeholders.


The program will be designed for students from families with a combined annual income of less than $32,000 and would address the financial gap of $1,000 or greater. The candidates must have an average of 2.5 accredited points or higher to apply.


The program would require several key positions to function properly.

Program coordinator – responsible for the synchronization of goals and objectives across the components.

Computer lab assistants – providing support on the technical details of IT usage for academic purposes.

Advisory board – develops and implements academic success events and college culture workshops.

Community cooperation team – responsible for communication with local employers and families.

Student Amount

Due to its encompassing nature, the program is intended for a cluster of colleges within a single locale. However, since it is a pilot initiative, it would be reasonable to limit the audience to the students of a single college and expand the scope after the evaluation shows the functionality of the selected format.


ACT. (2016). Lack of progress for low-income students signals need for collaboration.

Kezar, A. (Ed.). (2010). Recognizing and serving low-income students in higher education: An examination of institutional policies, practices, and culture. New York, NY: Routledge.

Marlowe, M., Tincher-Ladner, L., King, S., & Boggs, G. (2016). .

Thompson, M. (2016). Three ways schools can help lower-income students plan for college.

Weissman, E., Cerna, O., Geckeler, C., Schneider, E., Price, D. V., & Smith, T. J. (2009). .

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