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Student success? TRIO SSS works for that.

The Student Support Services program achieved a 93 percent persistence rate. Here’s how (and how you can too).

April 26, 2018

Center for Equity and Student Achievement TRIO Group; from left, Tisha Townsend, Ally Garcia and Eric Silva.
Center for Equity and Student Achievement TRIO Group; from left, Tisha Townsend, Ally Garcia and Eric Silva.

“As a student worker, being able to see the great things we did to help students – and as a student on the receiving end of that support – was truly inspiring,” said Tisha Townsend, a Scholar Advisor with the TRIO Student Support Services program.

“It changed the course of my life.”

Developed out of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and part of Metropolitan State University of Denver for the past 40 years, TRIO SSS aims to increase university graduation rates among students who identified as having a disability or being first-generation or low-income.

It works, too – this past year, the program achieved a 93 percent persistence rate for participants, and it graduates its students at a 20 percent higher rate than the greater institutional average.  

One of the keys to its success is a holistic advising approach that focuses on getting to know students beyond their time on campus. TRIO Advisors identify how to best support success in aspects that include financial-aid counseling, career advising and managing family relationships and identity development.  

“TRIO has really enhanced my education,” said Lyndsie Zinicola, a senior and Peer Mentor/Tutor with the TRIO SSS program. “I feel needed here and love helping other students get where they need to be.”

Another element of TRIO SSS’s success has been its ability to cultivate campus partnerships. The program has close relationships with Financial Aid, the CARE team, academic advisors across campus and a variety of other programs. These relationships are essential in building networks of support so students have advocates – not just email addresses.

Small caseloads also allow the program to form truly individualized relationships with students. This goes a long way in community development when TRIO students continue to come back to the office well after they’ve developed the self-efficacy and academic skill set to navigate the institution. 

“TRIO may be the first place where our students find community and support, but we make sure that they know the support extends beyond the walls of our office,” said Eric Silva, TRIO SSS Scholar Advisor.

Faith Fitzgerald, who has been with TRIO SSS for over two years, described the program’s formula for success: “Numbers are great, surpassing organizational goals is great, but (the differentiator) is each beautifully unique individual coming together, in our community, making us successful.”

Find out more about TRIO SSS services and strategies by visiting the Center for Equity and Student Achievement on the second floor of the Student Success Building.

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