Arkansas Tech University

“I trust our ReUp coaches to know the answers, and I don’t worry about them bringing back somebody who can’t be successful, because of the way the coaches make sure they are truly ready to come back.” 

The Challenge: Expanding Educational Access Without Designated Funding 

From technical career center expertise that serves high school students to degree programs at the associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral level, Arkansas Tech University offers options and support to students at every step of the educational ladder — with more than 130-degree programs. Across all these domains, ATU currently serves over 11,000 students. 

At the heart of providing such a diverse set of opportunities is a drive to ensure access to education. Dr. Jeff Aulgur, who chairs the department of Professional Studies, explains: “Arkansas Tech continues to focus on access to education, which drives our strategic planning.  Arkansas is a state where 1 out of 6 adults has a four-year undergraduate degree. That has been a challenge for this state historically. Any opportunity to help someone complete that degree is not just a benefit to the institution, but it builds a stronger state, and it builds a stronger economy.”  

With a determination to ensure access and increase degree completion, ATU identified stopped out students as an area where they wanted to do more. Dr. Blake Bedsole, Vice President of Enrollment Management, explains that despite their interest in this area, they faced a challenge with finding resources to provide stopped out students with the support they needed: “We wanted to increase the access for this population, we needed to do more to be able to go after them, but we didn’t have the resources.”

The Solution: Customized Support for Stopped out Students Through Partnership

Looking for a creative solution, Dr. Bedsole investigated ReUp Education, intrigued by a partnership model with no upfront costs. He describes how this approach fit their desire to impact students without needing any additional resources to get started: “The way ReUp’s partnership is structured, we get to work with this population, we get to find out what their concerns are, and we get them back into classes — and then we settle the financials on the back end. That was the main reason we were able to pursue the partnership.” 

While it was important for the stopout approach to work well for the University, ultimately it had to work well for the students themselves – by addressing their specific obstacles to access. Dr. Aulgur explains how this happens: “I think sometimes once people stop out along their journey, they just get it in their minds that it’s difficult to return. Or that there are too many barriers to overcome. What this partnership has allowed us to do is to assist those individuals in seeing that the barriers in most cases are surmountable. There are ways to go around them, under them, through them, or over them. ReUp is assisting us in allowing people to see that there is an opportunity to return, and there are viable pathways to degree completion.”

“The way ReUp’s partnership is structured, we get to work with this population, we get to find out what their concerns are, and we get them back into classes -- and then we settle the financials on the back end. That was the main reason we were able to pursue the partnership.” 

Results

181 stopped out students have already re-enrolled.

In the first year since launching the partnership

Recognizing the importance of continuing support for returning stopouts, ATU has found the ReUp partnership model well aligned with their vision for supporting access. As ReUp coaches continue to provide ongoing support to returning students term after term until they graduate, there is open communication between ReUp and ATU about what ReUp’s coaches are hearing from the students. The ReUp and ATU teams talk regularly about trends, brainstorm opportunities to improve the student experience and find the ideal pathway for each student based on their specific needs. Dr. Aulgur summarizes the dynamic: “It’s a collaborative relationship with open communication. I appreciate just how easy it has been for our team to work together with the ReUp team.” 

 “Generally for adult learners, life gets in the way and creates challenges for them. So 2020 might not have been the right time for some of these individuals, it may not have been feasible for them. There is continued opportunity to recover students, as ReUp continues to reach out.”

Dr. Jeff AulgurDepartment Chair of Professional Studies

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