Beacon program prepares students for higher success

Beacon 2

The Campus Labs Beacon website

By Marco Rodriguez

Each year, colleges and universities across the country work countless hours to attract students into their classrooms. While getting them onto their campus is a priority, protecting them from pitfalls and retaining them is equally as important. Kean University is addressing this second step as it prepares to pilot the Beacon program this fall.

Beacon, a computer program created by Campus Labs, analyzes student data for school officials and assists them in their efforts to retain students. Currently, over 750 colleges and universities use Beacon to have predictive data on student behavior and tendencies.

As a part of the Beacon program, the university will imbed a survey when students go to register for classes this upcoming semester. The survey will feature questions about the student’s educational background, as well as questions regarding their time at Kean University. Once completed, the software performs its analytics and gives officials a probability of retaining the student based on the data collected. The program will be piloted in the fall to both incoming and current students, and if found successful, will become a regular tool used by the university.

Jean Brown, Kean University’s Intervention and Retention Coordinator, is optimistic about the program’s implementation as her office will benefit significantly from it.

“The great thing about Beacon is that it does all the work that we currently can’t do because of the lack of personnel,” said Brown. “In the fall semester, we will have a better way of how we observe students and help them before they get into academic hardships.”

Currently, Brown’s office is able to help students through email alerts from professors, financial aid’s “Never Attended” class report, and system warnings when a student tries to drop most or all of their classes.

“At the end of the day, what makes the difference is the timing,” said Brown. “Presently, we use reactive data to help students once we know they have begun to struggle. With Beacon, however, we will be using predictive data to warn students before they struggle. The earlier we have the information the better.”

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