When Hurricane Harvey was ravaging Houston in 2017, National Louis University alum Bernada Baker ’15 went to drop off donations. Through that act, Baker, who earned her Ph.D. in Community Psychology at NLU, met a baby who has changed her life. Continue reading
As a National Louis University team of instructors and success coaches met for its weekly review of students’ data, they noticed that the A and B grades of one sophomore in the Pathways at NLU program had begun to drop. After conferring quickly around the table, they decided this student’s coach should reach out to the student.
The coach discovered that the student did not have a stable home and was also struggling with having a dependable job and income. Many Pathways students come from under-resourced families in underserved Chicago-area neighborhoods, so they face realities such as having to work full-time, pay rent and care for family members. In this case, the coach worked with the student to find stable housing and employment. Without such intervention, the student would likely have dropped out of higher education.
This anecdote appears in the newly-released Case Study of Pathways at NLU, an explainer on how the Pathways team uses thoughtful data techniques, human mentoring and other strategies to help disadvantaged students enter and persist in college and graduate with four-year degrees. The team continuously refines these methods in order to improve outcomes and share the most effective techniques with other educators.
The case study highlights Pathways’ ultimate goal of educating students who might not otherwise have gone to college and preparing them for fulfilling careers and economic mobility. In the 2017-18 class of Pathways’ students, for example, 82 percent were eligible for Pell grants, 82 percent were the first generation in their families to attend college, were 94 percent underrepresented minorities and had an average high school GPA of 2.7.
Now in its fourth year, the program is succeeding on measures of growth, academic progress and retention. Enrollment has grown from the original 85 students to more than 1,000. In terms of academic performance, the number of “on track to graduate” students has grown from 60 percent for the first cohort to 76 percent for the 2017-18 cohort. The retention rate between years one and two for the first two cohorts was 70 percent, outperforming the 53 percent persistence rate for Chicago Public Schools students with similar academic profiles at other higher education institutions.
Many factors contribute to helping Pathways at NLU and its students succeed. These include an affordable $10,000 tuition rate, which is covered by grants for many students, personalized learning technology and two-day-a-week blended class schedules.
However, Pathways’ two most important weapons against failure have become people, in the form of student success coaches and instructors, and data, or more specifically, smart ways of using data to gain insights into how students are doing.
The case study explains how NLU’s Pathways team uses data to track students’ progress weekly, to help give instructors a big-picture view of how students are doing so they can adjust coursework if necessary, and identify trends or challenges in the courses and course sequences so that the team can make improvements.
Some of Pathways’ most notable successes have taken place when coaches and instructors gather weekly to go over student data, notice something that stands out, confer among themselves and then reach out to a student to offer supportive assistance. As in the story at the beginning of this post, sometimes this outreach makes the difference between a student continuing in college or dropping out.
These small successes are usually unheralded, but they are deserving of fanfare. They are the places where the “rubber” of life challenges meets the “road” of academic work, and a university prepared to help students navigate this juncture is better able to see them through to graduation. While National Louis University’s team members continue to refine methods and strategies, they are gratified at the successes so far and willing to share and expand their findings with educators, researchers, funders and others interested in closing the opportunity gap for students who face an uphill climb toward their college diplomas.
WTTW-Channel 11’s “Chicago Tonight” show aired a segment last night featuring interviews with National Louis University President Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., and Gustavo Garcia, a sophomore student. Many other undergraduates were featured in the background footage that the WTTW crew filmed in the sixth-floor lounge on Dec. 5. Continue reading
The Chicago Tribune has reported on National Louis University’s purchase of part of the historic building known as the Gage Building, located at 18/28 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. NLU has acquired 126,000 square feet of the 177,000-square foot, 12-story structure, including a portion of the first floor.
As the Tribune’s Ryan Ori reported, NLU will move its Kendall College culinary and hospitality students to the new building from its Goose Island campus. Students from NLU’s growing Undergraduate College are expected to also have classroom space at the new building.
The article noted that when Kendall students start at the new building, expected in 2020, they will be located in the heart of Chicago’s tourism and restaurant scene. The new location is just one block from the existing Chicago campus, which will remain in operation. Both campuses are well-served by public transportation.
Devine Drakes is not only an enthusiastic junior and student ambassador in National Louis University’s undergraduate program, she’s also part of #ABetterChicago, both literally and figuratively. Continue reading
Click. Robert Perez, a military veteran, takes a gorgeous photo of a river flanked with trees. Click. He takes another of the neat rows of a mid-summer cornfield. Click. And a photo of the faithful brown dog following him around, tongue hanging out.
He’s participating in the PhotoVoice project, which encourages veterans to bond by capturing photo images that have meaning for them. And a new video features Perez, his fellow veteran friends and two National Louis University professors. Continue reading
National Louis University alum Lamont Robinson Jr., who earned his MBA in 2012, won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 election. He’ll represent Illinois’ 5th District, a long, narrow swath that runs from the Near North Side south to 79th Street on the South Side, largely centered around State Street and Michigan Avenue (see map). The seat became vacant when Rep. Juliana Stratton agreed to run for lieutenant governor on gubernatorial hopeful JB Pritzker’s ticket, a gamble that paid off when they won last Tuesday. Continue reading
National Louis University experts were featured by television news shows this past weekend. One discussed veterans and Veterans Day while the other provided expert analysis on a criminal case. Continue reading
Chalkbeat.org, a nonprofit news organization focusing on education, recently quoted Robert D. Muller, dean of National Louis University’s National College of Education in a Nov. 2 article titled “In one Chicago high school, big plans amid a bilingual teacher shortage” and a Nov. 5 article titled “Beyond hiring: the struggle to diversify Chicago’s teaching ranks.”
Reporter Adeshina Emanuel asked Muller for his thoughts on the fact that the Chicago Public Schools and other districts are having trouble hiring and retaining African-American and Latino teachers, leaving students of color largely without role models.
By Rachel Waymel, Assistant Professor of English, Undergraduate College
Joining with college students across the nation, National Louis University participants championed immigrants on October 24, the third annual day of action for the national #IStandWithImmigrants group.
NLU’s Wheeling campus was filled with delicious food, music, and conversations as students, faculty and staff took part. The day of action is part of #IAmAnImmigrant’s year-long initiative to recognize and celebrate contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make to the U.S. The student organization Educators Rising, an NLU chapter of the national group by the same name that focuses on preparing future educators, learned about the day of action and quickly decided to participate in the event. Continue reading