A community college student support program is producing results

SUNY Westchester Community College and MDRC, a social policy research organization, released the results of a new study Thursday that found students in the college’s student support program enroll full-time at higher rates and accumulate more credits than their peers.

The program, called Viking ROADS, or Resources for Obtaining Associate Degrees and Success, launched in 2018 and aims to help students earn an associate degree in three years or faster. It is based on Accelerated Learning in Associate Programs, or ASAP, developed by the City University of New York system. The program provides students with one-on-one academic advising, tutoring services, and summer orientation, and offers them financial support, including a monthly travel voucher, an annual $500 textbook stipend, and a stipend that covers tuition and fees not covered by grant aid. Students must be New York State residents and enrolled full-time with at least a 2.0 GPA to be eligible.

“Viking ROADS is truly life-changing, and it’s exactly what we hoped for,” Belinda S. Miles, president of SUNY Westchester Community College, said at a press conference Thursday.

The randomized controlled trial included 574 students in three cohorts — Fall 2019, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021. Full-time program students were found to be 20 percentage points higher than non-program students. Students in the program were also three credits ahead of other students during the first two semesters.

“You can think of it as one class closer to graduation, to getting your degree,” Stanley Dye, an MDRC technical research analyst, said at a press conference. “Taken together, these current impacts, both in credit and full-time enrollment, give us a high degree of confidence that this program will allow students to graduate on time … in three years and earn a degree.”

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