CHS Advising Team Leads College to Record Student Persistence Rate
Published April 27, 2023 By Darlene Muguiro UTEP College of Health Sciences
In honor of Global Advising Week (April 30 – May 6, 2023), the College of Health Sciences would like to highlight the academic advising team in the Student Support Center (SSC), led by Joy Olimpo, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Support. Under Olimpo’s leadership, CHS is celebrating its highest semester-to-semester persistence rate on record – 91.1% across the college from Fall 2022 to Spring 2023 – placing CHS first among colleges that serve both undergraduate and graduate students. (This persistence rate represents the percentage of CHS students enrolled in fall who return and enroll for spring semester, after removing those who completed their degrees in December.)
Reaching 91% persistence is noteworthy and hits the goal UTEP President Dr. Heather Wilson shared in Fall 2022. The record follows several banner semesters in CHS student persistence, drawing the attention of UTEP administration and bringing the CHS Student Support Center to the forefront.
“Research shows that students who ‘stop out’ and don’t return to enroll for the next semester are less likely to complete their college degrees. Students who are able to maintain continuous enrollment have a significantly higher degree completion rate,” Olimpo said. “Our goal is to work with our students to address any barriers that might prevent them from enrolling each semester until they earn their degree.”
Olimpo says that creating the SSC’s approach to promote and encourage students to register included trial and error, and the SSC team relied heavily upon student feedback to fine-tune their processes. As part of UTEP’s Holistic Advising Model, all UTEP students have an assigned academic advisor. Once a student is advised by the SSC, they are paired with an academic advisor who they work with through degree completion. Olimpo says she believes the SSC’s unique approach to registration advising and persistence is what makes the SSC model so effective.
“We developed a method based on our population’s needs and feedback. Our process allows students to complete their academic advising in a timely, student-led, individualized manner. Our advisors choose to work long hours in the first weeks of registration advising to ensure that registration is not delayed. Completing the bulk of our advising earlier in the semester allows us to shift our focus to persistence before the semester is finished, while students are still in the academic mindset,” she said. “Advisors review the list of students who haven’t registered yet, get insight about their situation based on their holds, and tailor their additional outreach accordingly.”
Olimpo says that without the commitment of her SSC team members, including lead academic advisor Alondra Miranda, and academic advisors Samantha Fernandez, Denise Tovar, and Alejandra Avalos, student outreach would fall flat.
“CHS students are supported by extremely dedicated and caring advisors, some of whom have been working in the SSC since they were undergraduate students themselves,” she said. “Our students trust their advisors to provide timely and accurate information about their degree requirements as well as address issues that could turn into roadblocks. We take pride in what we do, and everyone in the SSC contributes to the culture of care that students recognize.”
Miranda agreed, adding that the SSC team inherently understands the pressure many students feel while navigating the path towards a future in health care. She says that the process of guiding them through any roadblocks and in making critical decisions is particularly rewarding.
“We know we are guiding the professionals dedicated to improving the health of our community, and we are constantly working on improving our techniques to better serve our students,” she said. “Expectations are high for CHS students, and we want to ensure we support them in their journey to meet their goals.”
Even with campus-wide advising efforts and the vast array of resources available at UTEP, some students will inevitably face major life events that require a break in their enrollment. Olimpo says that the team’s approach to working with students who stop out centers on providing service prior to and during the absence. While students are away from UTEP, their advisors stay in touch, provide support and encouragement, and focus on the plan for a successful return to UTEP in the future.
“Student persistence is complicated – it’s not just a reflection of if students enjoy college. They have many roles and responsibilities outside of being a college student, and we have to take all of this into account to provide the support they need and deserve,’” she said. “As advisors, we share a common goal with them: degree completion. We help our students work towards that goal while managing commitments like caring for family members or themselves during health or financial crises. Our goal is to support students on their journey, and support is best when we meet them where they’re at.”
Help us celebrate Global Advisors Week! Be sure to stop by the SSC on the second floor of the Health Sciences and Nursing Building to thank our team for their service.
Visit the SSC online: www.utep.edu/chs/ssc and on Instagram: @utep.chs.advising