The Chronicle of Higher Education describes how the pandemic has inspired colleges to enhance data collection on students’ basic needs as a strategic effort to support student well being and improve graduation rates. The article highlights Amarillo College, a two-year college in Texas with about 9,000 enrolled students. While the school has asked students about housing and food insecurity for five years, the pandemic encouraged administrators to invest in more sophisticated data infrastructure. Responses to the survey have been used to meet broad student needs—like partnering with community organizations to implement more bus routes—and in the pandemic, for identifying specific students who need assistance with rent, food, and childcare (using federal pandemic relief funds). In the years since implementing the initial student survey, the college has seen its graduation and transfer rates nearly double, from 30 to 58 percent.
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