Columbia State receives grant to improve retention

Friday, August 25, 2017

Columbia State Community College was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to increase student retention and on-time graduation rates.

The Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund grant is intended to allow institutions to focus on student outcomes in areas such as credit hour progression and degree completion.

Through this grant, Columbia State will implement the Educational Advisory Board’s Navigate platform to enhance student onboarding and advising. In addition, Columbia State will create a new Charger Center that will link students to academic advising and provide career guidance and intrusive academic coaching to students.

“I am excited about improving communications with our students,” said Tammy Borren, Columbia State associate vice president of strategic planning, effectiveness and retention. “The goal is to increase student progression through the 36 semester credit hour benchmark by 15 percent by the close of the 2017-2018 academic year, with an additional 5 percent projected increase by the 2018-2019 academic year.”

The Navigate platform will offer custom enrollment steps for each student, smart academic planning to match students with careers and courses, a 360 dashboard for advisors to help ensure students stay on the right path and an actionable administrator view to provide data to better serve students and measure reportable outcomes.

“This grant presents a great opportunity to reach students through technologies that have a proven track record of success,” said Dr. Emily Siciensky, Columbia State associate vice president of information technology. “Course and program information and college success guidance will be easier to access than ever before.”

The Navigate technology, paired with the one-on-one advising for students with their assigned faculty advisor and added academic coaching in the new Charger Center, will improve and streamline the advising process. Advisors will be able to assist and communicate with students easier, which will lead to higher retention rates and improved student progress through their courses. Students will be connected with the tools and resources they need to succeed beginning at enrollment.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission was created in 1967 by the Tennessee General Assembly. The Commission develops, implements and evaluates postsecondary education policies and programs in Tennessee while coordinating the state’s systems of higher education, and is relentlessly focused on increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential. To learn more about THEC, visit