About the COMPASS Program

  1. COMPASS - Commitment to the Objective of Mentoring Perseverance, Achievement, Sustainability, and Success is a pilot program aimed at supporting African American Males currently on academic probation through collaborative efforts at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Our institutional efforts to support the academic success of students has resulted in a multi-layered approach.
  2. The objectives of the COMPASS program are to 1) increase the 2nd to 3rd year retention rate among AA male students at WCU, 2) reduce the equity gap between AA Males students and the rest of the student population by 20%. Our approach to the COMPASS program is multifaceted and has various components such as a) an academic graduate mentor, b) mandatory study hall, c) mandatory tutoring. While this initiative is in the early stages, we believe this model is can be a comprehensive sustainable tool for student success.
  3. The COMPASS programs for a direct individualized approach with graduate level academic mentors. The weekly meetings allow for the male students to have a safe space in which to trust and share successes, barriers and challenges as a student at West Chester University. This program empowers students to advocate for themselves across the campus.
  4. The students and mentors create a partnership built on trust and mutual respect. The students often seek advice and ask questions on many topics such as mental health, financial aid, housing and textbooks, among many others. This has allowed the program to create additional connections with many offices across the campus that provide services for students.
  5. It creates a unique opportunity to partner with the Higher Education Policy and Student Affairs Program to allow graduate students to apply knowledge and skills to support students toward academic success.
  6. As we move into our “new normal”, for some our students, stable housing and food options were suddenly gone. There is the constant worry of the unknown and the stress of being at home with additional responsibilities are some of the issues that have come from the weekly meetings. The inability to become motivated and the difficulty of staying accountable and trying to stay engaged during online lectures and discussions has caused us to pivot and increase communication over the past months.
  7. The ongoing feedback from these students have provided a wonderful opportunity to examine current policy and practices related to student success
  8. The pandemic has not changed why the program exist, if anything it has increased the need for support services to ensure their success.
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