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RCCD Tried a Far-reaching, Technology-backed Approach to Student Success — and Their Institutional Data Shows it’s Working

Student-centric missions are commonplace at U.S. colleges and universities. Successfully translating these ambitions into action is difficult, and progress is often hard to measure — but as Riverside Community College District (RCCD) has proven, with the right strategy it’s possible.

“At Norco College, we are committed to helping Mustang students thrive. We actively equip our students with skills that lead to fulling careers with more significant earning potential,” answered President Monica Green when asked about Norco College’s definition of ‘student success.’ Institutional data shows pairing this far-reaching definition with innovative technology is benefitting students at Norco, Moreno Valley College, and Riverside City College, the three institutions serving California’s Inland Empire through RCCD.

The Data is In: Student Success is Trending across RCCD

Despite the challenges of decreasing enrollment between 2019 and 2022, RCCD has not only awarded more degrees but also has helped its students earn these degrees in less time. Its three colleges have saved students money while preparing them to begin their careers on an expedited timeline.

According to its own Institutional Effectiveness data, RCCD has seen a 24% increase in degrees awarded (and, even after adjusting for enrollment, they saw a 6% increase in the number of degrees conferred per enrollment over that time). The district has also decreased the average number of terms to completion by one full term — almost a 20% decrease in time to degree — while reducing excess credits at degree by three credits, or one full course.

So, how did the district award more degrees in less time, when many two-year college districts could not make the same claim?

Strategy + Technology = Student Success at RCCD

RCCD’s approach to holistic student success has been multi-faceted. No one tactic is the sole driver of their results, but fully deploying EduNav’s course-to-career campus solutions was a key component of their strategy. RCCD’s partnership with the California-based EdTech company emphasizes the district’s commitment to extending student success beyond performance in the classroom.

The district completed full deployment of EduNav SmartPlan in 2019. In the most recent academic term, SmartPlan automatically generated, updated, and maintained 145,000 personalized academic plans for over 42,000 RCCD students across 280,000 sessions, keeping these students on track from course to career.

While EduNav’s academic planning technology is powerful, it’s just a start. EduNav also facilitates:

  • Accurately reporting future seat demand and need, optimizing course schedules across RCCD’s three campuses.
  • Unifying student, campus, and district data, helping RCCD automate degree progress tracking and award more degrees.

The Results that Matter: Advisors and Students Weigh In

Advisors are often the frontline for student success initiatives, and this is true at RCCD as well. Like most institutions, the district does not have the budget to fund ideal advisor-to-student ratios, so RCCD tapped their academic planning technology partner to scale limited advising resources.

Erin Spurbeck, a counselor at Norco College, reflected on what the deployment of automated, optimized, and integrated degree-planning technology has meant for RCCD advisors: “Before EduNav, we spent 50 minutes of an hour-long session on scheduling. Now, I spend about 10 minutes at the end of my advising sessions doing course planning.”

She continued: “The other 50 minutes? I get to focus on the most important questions: Why are you in college? Why is your goal to earn a degree? What excites you about your dream career? EduNav truly gives me more time to do what counselors are meant to do.”

With technology that empowers relational advising, students feel better supported beyond their one-on-one time with Erin and her fellow RCCD counselors as well. Simone, a first-year student, shared, “When you’re fresh out of high school, it’s hard to figure out what you want to do professionally, and it’s hard to figure out what you need to do academically to achieve your goal once you do figure it out. EduNav made it so much easier to plan, to see my full schedule and to prep for what to expect each semester.”

New to RCCD but not to community college, Keena added, “Planning for classes without EduNav was really confusing and overwhelming — overwhelming to the point where I dropped out of college once! Coming back and using EduNav at RCCD made it so much easier for me to plan for current and future terms. Every community college should use EduNav. It truly sets us up for success.”

Aaron, who balances a full-time job with a part-time course load, faced those challenges and more while trying to stay on track to transfer: “I go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the week, I work,” he shared. “EduNav did the planning for me. Not only that, but it made it easier to see which classes were transferable — I ultimately want to transfer to Cal State and, with EduNav, I’m able to plan out my start at RCCD with that long-term goal in mind.”

RCCD Sees No Limit to Student Success

What’s next for RCCD? “Helping students obtain degrees in less time, with little to no debt, means we are headed in the right direction,” concluded Dr. Green. “We are excited to spread our proven strategy with partners like EduNav. Together, we will redefine student success and empower students throughout California and beyond.”