Easing the college transition
MAP-Works survey complements UI focus on student success
Danielle DeRouen didn’t expect anyone to be paying attention.
Like other first-year University of Iowa students, she completed the online MAP-Works survey as part of the College Expectations course required of all new UI undergrads. The survey asked how she was adjusting to academic, social, financial, and other demands of college life.
“There was a question about how I planned to pay for college, and I answered that I really didn’t know,” says the psychology major from Fairfield, Iowa. “I don’t come from a lot of money, and both my mom and I were freaking out a little.”
But within a few weeks, DeRouen realized somebody was listening. She received an email from Cindy Seyfer in the Office of Student Financial Aid.
MAP-Works by the numbers
Since then, DeRouen says she and Seyfer have connected more than 20 times—just a few of 32,000-plus MAP-Works-inspired contacts UI staff and faculty have logged since implementing the program last fall.
The survey offers a new way to proactively address student concerns. It’s helping the university keep students enrolled, make education affordable, and enhance overall student success.
Like other UI student-success initiatives, MAP-Works makes a big university feel smaller and helps individual students find the support they need.
“You sometimes hear people tell students, ‘At big schools, you’re just a number,’” says Michelle Cohenour, director of retention for University College. “This program tells them, ‘No, you’re much more than that.’”
The campuswide survey of first-year students launched in 2012 with 150 questions that assess 20 different factors, everything from academics to self-efficacy to homesickness. All can impact whether students who start college at the UI stay to complete their degrees.
Campus partners in housing, advising, financial aid, and other areas can access results to see how individual students report doing. They also get alerts about students who may be at risk.
First-year UI students take the survey between their third and fifth weeks on campus. They’re also invited to participate in a spring follow up. The timing of the initial survey gives faculty and staff an opportunity to intervene when they spot signs of trouble.
DeRouen says that in her case, Seyfer helped by addressing problems with scholarships, pointing out unexplored options, and suggesting a complete plan to cover her costs.
“We still talk, but I feel very confident now,” DeRouen says. “I tell other students to be up front about their problems—people here will help you every step of the way.”