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Creating Momentum: Motivate Community College Students Early in the Semester

Creating Momentum: Motivate Community College Students Early in the Semester

Learn a few ways to motivate community college students early on in the semester using RaiseMe.

If your campus is anything like the ones I’ve worked at, this is the time of year when the new semester dust begins to settle, and many students hit their stride. Other students might need a hand to keep on track, especially if they are feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the more early academic and extracurricular momentum points a student hits the more likely they are to retain (Belfield, Jenkins, & Fink, 2019). RaiseMe motivates students to hit early momentum points by incentivizing good grades, taking full course loads, adding math courses, and being on track to graduate.

Here are three ways that RaiseMe builds early momentum and long-term retention in community college students:

  • Rewarding good grades, especially in math courses: Students earn micro-scholarships for each “A” or “B” grade they receive, which gives them an immediate goal to strive for. Some RaiseMe partner colleges even award bigger scholarships for earning good grades in individual math courses. We know completing math sequences are tied to completion.
  • The longer you retain, the more you earn:  Since micro-scholarships are small awards that accumulate over time. This means the longer the student persists at your community college, the more opportunities they have to earn. The student who retains through their associate’s degree is positioned to earn the most, which is a powerful motivator in degree completion.
  • Incentives for taking larger course loads: Many community colleges are encouraging students who are able to complete 30 credits per year. With RaiseMe, students earn micro-scholarships for each full-time semester they enroll in.
Screen capture showing micro-scholarships awarded for 15, 30, and 45 credit hours.

Our goal is to help you build the momentum students need to persist, complete, and transfer, while removing financial barriers that might limit their ambitions. Students are up against a lot, and we want to give them as many high fives as possible along the way. You can use our Community College Educator Toolkit to get your students started. For information on how your community college can partner with RaiseMe (for free!) contact us at ccinfo@raise.me.

Tara Zirkel, Ed.D, is Senior Manager for Community College Partnerships Manager for RaiseMe. Tara has over a decade of student affairs experience in community college settings, including as the Dean of Distance Education and Education Centers at Westmoreland County Community College and as the Director of Admissions, Interim Dean of Students, Adjunct Faculty, and Interim Associate Academic Dean at the Community College of Allegheny County. She holds a doctorate of education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she researched enrollment habits of community college students.

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