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K-State Today

November 18, 2022

Graduate student success initiatives and progress

Submitted by Megan Miller

The Graduate School has engaged in a systematic building of a comprehensive graduate student success plan. We are expanding our efforts to facilitate graduate student academic success, promote professional development and career readiness, and support student personal well-being. Below is a summary of initiatives and actions implemented to support graduate student success.

Facilitating academic success and degree completion

  • Graduate milestones dashboard — Launched in fall 2021, this PowerBI dashboard serves as a tool for the Graduate School to assess graduate student progress at the macro level and make data-informed decisions for policy and process change to improve efficiencies and support student degree completion. The dashboard also serves as a tool for graduate programs to monitor program-level and individual student progress and implement programmatic changes to support student success.
  • Probation reports and student success plans — Initiated at the conclusion of the fall 2021 semester, these reports are provided to graduate program directors each term. Graduate students on probation are requested to work with their major professor or graduate program director to develop a "success plan" for returning to good academic standing. As of the fall 2022 term, 147 graduate students are on academic probation from the fall 2021, spring 2022, or summer 2022 terms. A student success plan or status update from the program has been submitted for 35% of these students within a few weeks from sending the request.
  • Incomplete grade reports — Initiated at the conclusion of the fall 2021 semester and provided to graduate programs each term to facilitate graduate student completion of coursework. As of the conclusion of the spring 2022 semester, 247 graduate students had an incomplete grade for one or more courses — taken in spring 2022 or earlier.
  • Enhanced partnership with the Writing Center in fall 2022 to offer workshops on writing culture and strong writing habits, as well as three writing groups to provide time and space for graduate students to make progress on writing. Over 30 graduate students have participated in one or more of these activities.

Providing opportunities for professional development and career-readiness

  • Research forums to develop presentation and communication skills and promote research/scholarly work
    • Research and the State — fall 2022, 50 participants — same as the largest participation prior to the pandemic.
    • Coming in spring 2023: Three Minute Thesis competition, Feb. 8 and 22; K-State Graduate Research, Arts, and Discovery Forum, March 8 and 9; and Capitol Graduate Research Summit, March 22.
  • Graduate Student Council Professional Development series — In fall 2022, 11 events were offered by the Graduate Student Council or in partnership with other campus units, and 74 students attended one or more of these events.
  • Continued partnership with Staley School of Leadership to offer the Graduate Student Leadership Development program in spring 2023. Applications are being accepted through Nov. 28.

Supporting graduate student well-being and sense of belonging

  • Redesigned welcome and orientation activities for new graduate students — Since summer 2021, we began offering our orientation session both in-person and separately by Zoom to support onboarding of graduate students studying at all K-State campuses and online. Content of the orientation session has been revised to increase focus on the overall graduate student experience, personal well-being, and community building. Student engagement and enthusiasm at the fall 2022 orientation was noticeably better than in previous years.
  • Partnerships with Division of Student Life units to support and provide targeted support for graduate students, such as group therapy just for graduate students offered by Counseling and Psychological Services and 'Cats Connect groups tailored to graduate students to build community.
  • Enhanced partnership with the Office of Student Life to help address hardships and challenges that impact student progress, as well as utilizing data to identify trends in graduate student issues and develop actions to help reduce the number of preventable challenges.

Financial support for graduate students

  • Graduate Student Child Care scholarships — Fall 2021, raised $5,000 in our inaugural Giving Tuesday campaign; spring 2022, awarded $10,000 in scholarships to support 13 graduate students — out of 49 applicants; fall 2022, awarded $6,750 to support 10 students — out of 52 applicants — and continuing fundraising with Giving Tuesday campaign. The demand for this funding is high. Each semester, only 20-25% of applicants could be funded due to limited funding.
  • Expansion of Timothy R. Donoghue scholarship to support incoming graduate students — Historically, these scholarships were awarded only to graduate students admitted for the fall term. Beginning in 2022, the scholarships were expanded to include graduate students admitted for the spring term. Beginning in fall 2022, international students may be nominated for this scholarship — previously limited to U.S. citizens/permanent residents.
  • Graduate Student Council travel awards to support graduate student professional travel — more than $80,000 allocated so far in FY23 to fund support professional travel for over 200 graduate students.

Enhanced communication

  • Monthly "Know Hows" — These sessions provide an opportunity for conversation between the Graduate School team and graduate faculty, program directors, and staff about issues that impact graduate student success.
  • Grad Coffee Chats — Offered once a month, these informal chat sessions provide time for graduate students to discuss successes and challenges with the Graduate School dean.

The Graduate School appreciates the partnerships with our K-State colleagues, the work of the graduate faculty and staff, and the contributions of alumni and donors. We appreciate and thank all our partners for their contribution to the development and success of these initiatives.

We look forward to continuing the advancement of this work to help graduate students thrive in their academics and professional pursuits and have a happy, fulfilling experience at Kansas State University.

Questions about these graduate student success initiatives and ideas about how best to support graduate students, may be directed to Megan Miller in the Graduate School at mmmiller@k-state.edu

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