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Achieving the Dream

What is Achieving the Dream (AtD)?


The Student Success Innovation Fund includes $200,000 that has been set aside for exploratory student success projects. Learn more about the proposal process and submit the proposal form to  

Achieving the Dream is a national reform network dedicated to community college student success and completion; focused primarily on helping low-income students and students of color complete their education and obtain market-valued credentials.

Columbus State is using the principles and framework created by AtD to use an evidence-based approach to integrate and scale existing work at the College, and to facilitate new initiatives. This work will fuel continuous improvement in order to promote equity and elevate the success of its students.


What we have done & what we have learned

Worked with nearly 200 members of our campus community including faculty, staff, and students on the following initiatives:

1. Analyzed student success data* to identify areas for improvement, including the following:
  • Race/Ethnicity: The success rate in college level courses is 59% for African-American students and 74% for white students.
  • Socio-economic status: The success rate in college level courses is 64% for Pell recipients and 76% for students that do not receive Pell.
  •  Developmental Education: The success rate for developmental courses is 51% for all students, compared to 70% for college level courses.

*Success is defined as receiving a letter grade of A, B, C or S in a course. All students enrolled after the census date are included in rate calculations.

2. Facilitated Fishbone Sessions with Faculty and Staff

We learned:

  • Personal connection matters – our students need it
  • Student preparedness for and understanding of college can be lacking
  • Advising needs to be proactive, easily accessible, and clear
  • Challenges exist in cultural competency and understanding of students
3. Conducted Student Focus Groups

Student’s challenges include:

  • Self-confidence
  • Study skills/time management
  • Comfort with technology
  • Awareness of available resources
  • Self-discipline and attendance
  • Integrating college into their lives

We learned that our students need:

  • More accessibility to programs and support
  • Feedback from faculty
  • Consistent policies – e.g. attendance
  • Mentoring programs
  • More availability of tutoring
  • More supplemental instruction
4. Attended DREAM Institute
5. Held a half-day retreat with AtD coaches
6. Reviewed past and current continuous improvement and student success initiatives

Information was reviewed from AQIP, the Foundations of Excellence, etc., which have been used as part of the background for establishing priorities.

7. Studied best practices and supporting literature

The following models stand out:

  • Learning Communities, Intrusive Advising, and Supplement Instruction
  • Alternate and/or Accelerated Developmental Pathways
8. Collected feedback on current college policy from the campus community

Selected strategies will be used as the lens for what we can do to impact student success.

Next Steps

The following priorities have been identified through this process, which will serve as the foundation of our implementation plan.

  • First Year Experience and Student Advising
  • Creating an Informed, Empowered Culture
  • Successful Progression & Acceleration through Pre-College Coursework
  • Meaningful Connections for Students from Entrance through Completion

Stay Involved

  • Share your thoughts and best practices here
  • Get involved by emailing us
  • Stay informed by watching our website for updates, joining our Yammer group, and reading information distributed around our campus.