SAS helps Hillsborough Community College students’ dreams come true

Analytics turns near-graduates into graduates and puts them on the path to bachelor’s degrees

Michael Malcolm thought he would have to drop out of Hillsborough Community College near Tampa, FL, and abandon his dream of being a doctor. Guided by SAS® Analytics, HCC identified Malcolm as the first recipient of a new scholarship that helps promising students complete both an associate’s and bachelor’s degree. The unexpected money allowed Malcolm to earn his associate in arts degree in five semesters, and transfer successfully to the University of South Florida (USF) this fall to pursue his medical dream.

“The support from HCC is giving me the foundation to prepare for the future,” said Malcolm. “HCC creates a personal environment where I know what specific path I need to take to reach my goals.”

Michael is part of the FUSE program, a collaboration between USF and eight Florida community colleges, pioneered at HCC with USF, to provide a seamless, articulated path to an associate degree and a bachelor's degree from USF. If a student earns an associate’s degree in three years in a program that overlaps with USF degree offerings, they automatically can be enrolled in the program at USF.

Using SAS, HCC tracks student progress and knows whether a participant has strayed from the FUSE path. By looking at credits attempted and completed, HCC can target interventions and outreach, and keeps students on track to transition to USF and earn a bachelor’s degree.

This is just one example of how HCC is using analytics and reporting to provide greater opportunities and lifetime earning potential for students. Using their SAS analytics dashboard, HCC tracks many additional metrics, including student enrollment, progression and success. Graduation rates, in particular, are a key component of state and federal performance measurement. Harnessing the power of SAS data management, data visualization and reporting, HCC can address those requirements definitively.

Learn more about how data visualization and analytics is transforming higher education.

The SAS dashboard informs HCC’s “near graduation” program by pulling data from multiple departments to show administrators and the registrar the students who are not currently enrolled but are within 25 percent of completing their program requirements needed for graduating. HCC reaches out to those students to encourage them to re-enroll and complete their credential. The college can identify which students are on track, which are near completion and which are eligible to be auto-graduated.

HCC also identifies and informs students who may be closer to another degree than their declared program of study. Their efforts do not stop at the state border, either. HCC integrates national transfer clearance data to find and notify former students who are close to graduating.

Since deploying SAS BI for these efforts, HCC has graduated, or awarded certificates to, more than 5,100 students, including 13 percent of all graduations during the 2016-17 academic year. 

“By nudging people across the finish line, we’re having a positive effect on outcomes and earning potential,” said Paul Nagy of HCC’s Strategic Planning and Analysis group. According to Nagy, students with an associate’s degree from HCC earn 35 percent more compared to county citizens with only high school degrees. That’s more than half a million dollars over their lifetimes.

“Community colleges play a pivotal role in creating brighter futures for young students and adult learners,” said Emily Baranello, Vice President of SAS Education. “HCC demonstrates how analytics can aid in that mission, and continues to look for new ways to innovate with data.”

HCC is further enhancing its data visualization capabilities with the addition of SAS Visual Analytics, and has bold plans for other analytics applications.

“Analytics will help us track our students through HCC and beyond to better understand the pathways to successful degree completion and careers,” said Nagy. HCC also plans to generate more powerful reports and forecasts around headcount, class scheduling and finance.

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