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A provost shares her thoughts on the academic degree planner driving student success at RVCC

“When I came to Raritan Valley Community College, we had no degree planner,” reflected Deborah “Debi” Preston, former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the public, 2-year institution in Branchburg, New Jersey. “I remember working with faculty to manually model pathways to student success. It just didn’t work. It took too much time, and we struggled with preconceived notions of what those pathways should look like. There were just too many options and requirements to even grasp!”  

RVCC has an enrollment of over 6,000 students from diverse backgrounds with varying academic and professional goals, and Debi didn’t have concerns about retention, necessarily. Multiple factors make RVCC a great option for local first-time students and career changers. She was concerned about scaling the support these students needed to achieve their goals, something she knew RVCC would need the right technology — and partner behind the technology — to achieve. 

Finding the right course-to-career planner partner

Debi was aware that she had options when it came to degree planner tools, but she wasn’t looking for just any technology. “What stuck out from the very beginning was the team behind EduNav. I trusted them from our first meeting, when they made it clear that they’re focused on what’s best for students. Their technology was built and continues to be optimized with that question in mind — how can we leverage this power to make more students successful?” 

RVCC started with an EduNav pilot and they loved it — and then they ran into their first hurdle: their search for an on-staff systems analyst to shepherd the EduNav implementation failed. Debi knew this could be a breaking point. She had firsthand experience with technology being great but not having the right internal team to implement it, or taking so long to implement with limited internal resources that the technology became obsolete

Not so with EduNav.  

The difference? “EduNav’s experience making systems talk to one another was invaluable, and their approach to project management kept us all accountable, too. I also think it helped to have the right people, including leaders on both sides, at our first kickoff meetings. We could make the decisions we needed to make in real time so nothing stalled. We stayed on track, launched our first 10 programs on time, and have incrementally launched new programs, all by our target dates.” 

Doing more with EduNav

What’s next? “We’re at the point now where I’m organically finding ways to spread the word about the possibilities of EduNav!” shared Debi. “I was in a meeting just the other day where one of my colleagues was imagining manually creating pathways for adult students. Before EduNav, that would have been possible, yes, but it would have been a manual effort that took our staff’s attention away from one of our other pressing priorities. Now, I simply said: Well, EduNav can do that, too.”

Debi joined EduNav and Lou Reinisch, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University—Kingsville, for an online panel discussion to share more insight into her experience guiding students from course to career at RVCC. Watch the on-demand webinar to hear more about the future of student success according to two higher ed leaders.