Topic: How does WSU ensure the academic success of students participating in athletics?
Challenge/opportunity: The progress of WSU’s student-athletes is closely monitored by the Academic Services staff within the Athletic Department. Academic support for student-athletes often times begins during the summer before the student is enrolled full time on campus. Many student-athletes participate in the Summer Bridge program that partners with Summer Advantage on campus. Throughout the summer, students attend orientations including ALIVE! and the athletics orientation to get them acclimated to WSU. The summer bridge program has been very successful for student-athletes and is a great way for students to establish a good GPA as well as build a foundation for academic success on the WSU campus.
Upon arriving at Washington State, all student-athletes are given screeners, which help guide Academic Services for the individual student. The screeners help to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses within academics; specifically, if a student has a learning disability and/or ADHD. These screeners give the learning specialists and advisors on staff an idea of how to best support student-athletes.
Each of the 14 teams within the athletics department are assigned to a team academic advisor that closely monitors class schedules in relation to NCAA progress toward degree monitoring and graduation. In addition, each advisor tracks and monitors student-athletes progress in their classes. Using a web-based platform called SSC Campus, WSU collects academic progress reports from faculty in the sixth and 13th week of each semester. The advisors then use this information to assist students that may be struggling in a course.
The Academic Services staff provides a comprehensive tutoring program that allows student-athletes to request tutors for classes they feel they need support in. The tutoring program offers guided study sessions in which there is a facilitator with three to four students that work on study strategies as well as one-on-one content based session. All tutors are certified through CRLA (College Reading and Learning Association).
- Summer Bridge Program for incoming student-athletes: Athletics utilizes WSU’s Summer Advantage program as a framework for student-athletes’ Summer Bridge Program. Over a five-week period in summer 2017, 47 student-athletes completed seven credits and earned an average 3.39 GPA. In addition to attending classes, each student-athlete attended daily tutoring sessions Monday-Thursday for three hours per day. Student-athletes also engaged in a community service activity during Summer Bridge. (Summer 2016 saw 52 student-athletes earn a 3.28 GPA; Summer 2015 saw 73 student-athletes earn a 3.55 GPA).
- Student-athletes in academic services: Our goal is for every new student-athlete to meet weekly with an academic advisor during their first semester on campus. During Fall 2017, 128 first semester student-athletes met weekly with an academic advisor and 66 returning student-athletes were continued in services and met at least once a week with an academic advisor, usually a learning specialist. These student-athletes typically have some learning development needs as assessed through screeners. Freshmen student-athletes earned an average 3.04 semester GPA.
- WSU’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR): WSU Athletics’ most recent all student-athlete GSR is 80 percent. The GSR cohort includes all scholarship freshmen who entered WSU in 2010-11 as well as all student-athletes who transferred into WSU and received athletics aid for the first time in 2010-11. Excluded from the cohort are student-athletes who left WSU prior to graduation but were academically eligible to compete or who were considered an allowable exclusion.
- Team Performance: Eleven of WSU’s 14 teams (track and cross country are combined) maintain over a 3.00 GPA. In the fall of 2017, women’s golf earned the highest team GPA, a 3.49. Women’s tennis, men’s track and field/XC and women’s track and field/XC earned their team highest semester GPA.
NWCCU Standards Reference: 2.D.13