As your college implements its WFS strategy, your investors — both internal and external — naturally will ask “what will be the impact of the effort” and “when can we expect to see these results.” As in any initiative, the answers will depend on your college’s circumstances and the design choices you have made.
If your program has chosen to work with a small cohort of students and provide a high-intensity of services, it is likely you’ll see results in terms of increased retention and completion rates at a faster pace than a more low-intensity effort that reaches more individuals. For instance, Norwalk Community College, which works with a selected group of individuals providing more intensive counseling on an individualized basis, saw increased levels of retention shortly after implementing the service. Other WFS elements such as including financial literacy in a student success class may require more time to see the results of intervention.
In general, the experience of other colleges suggests that the higher intensity level of services will move the needle quicker in terms of results. But the trade-off may be that increasing the intensity may mean you can’t reach as many students. What is clear is that whatever your expectations, tracking data must be collected and shared with your investors in a timely manner. The data collection section of the guide provides recommendations on what to measure and when.
Delivery — Conclusion
In the community college setting, the ultimate goal of the WFS effort is to provide students with the resources they need not only to meet their educational goals but to transition into a meaningful career. Thus the expected results from the WFS effort are best measured against that benchmark: students who receive WFS services should complete a post-secondary credential at a higher rate.
As this implementation guide demonstrates, the path your college takes to facilitate that goal can vary greatly. A particular college’s mix of services is dependent on the circumstances of its environment, availability of funds and most importantly, the needs of its students. But by embracing the integrated service approach embodied in the WFS strategy, an institution is saying it believes its commitment to students extends beyond the classroom walls.