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Meet VANCE: How two institutions are addressing low bachelor’s completion rates for transfer students

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For Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and George Mason University, the past year has been a collaborative push to address one question: How might community colleges and four-year universities dramatically improve transfer and baccalaureate attainment rates by reframing the end-to-end experience from the student’s point-of-view? A year long design process  to better understand the transfer student experience has culminated in a pilot, named Vance.

What is VANCE?

VANCE is a prototyped mobile AI app designed by faculty, students, and administrators of both schools during the Seamless Transfer Pathways Design Challenge that would provide 24/7 personalized support to students transferring from NOVA to George Mason University. The concept would overlay on ADVANCE, the ground-breaking entity now piloting between the two universities as a new seamless, holistic service model for 2 +2 students who sign up for bachelor’s attainment.

Joined by Subject Matter Experts from SignalVine, a leading texting platform aimed at supporting students and institutions, and Georgia State University, an institution that has proven the value of personalized AI support for admitted students, both NOVA and George Mason were pushed to consider how VANCE

would play out in the real world amongst busy staff schedules and varying campuses (not to mention varying sources of information).

The design session closed with a briefing to executive staff from both schools. With the support of campus leadership (and the continued support of the Lab), the core NOVA/Mason VANCE team plans to move forward with a live pilot of VANCE for a select group of students.

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At the Lab, we believe that AI technology can be a “hero” in the higher education landscape, capable of filling persistent information gaps and allowing university employees time to focus more energy on human relationships. The NOVA/Mason VANCE project is a part of a larger AI movement within higher education. How other institutions are utilizing AI technology in design solutions:

  • Georgia State University developed Pounce, an AdmitHub chatbot designed to assist students with enrollment and financial aid information through a texting platform.
  • Through Stellic’s platform, Elon University can offer students an advising and educational planning service that integrates course data, internships, study abroad, and co-curricular activities— taking the guesswork out of degree requirements, even if the student has switched majors
  • The University of Arizona utilizes AI technology to automate highly repetitive tasks in the admissions process in an effort to enhance the admissions review process, and allow staff the time and space to make the best matches.