Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Perspective | Haywood Community College increases student success through excellence in advising

When Haywood Community College (HCC) embarked on the reaccreditation process, one of the first steps was to establish a Quality Enhancement Plan. The concept of the plan was to provide clarity and direction throughout the college student’s journey so that each student could define and map their own path to degree or certificate completion. A primary goal of that plan was to increase student success through excellence in advising.

In order to accomplish that goal, HCC invested in a new model of advising, called navigating college, which included developing an interactive student orientation tool (Compass), creating a comprehensive advisor training portal (QUEST), and hiring full-time success coaches to work in a new student centralized advising center (Summit). To further assist with this endeavor, HCC turned to Aviso Retention Enterprise Solutions to proactively engage and measure the impact of student interactions with on-campus advising resources.

We consolidated and standardized systems for staff, tracking all student engagement related action items within Aviso. Now, we can clearly visualize our advising inputs and outputs to identify general opportunities for improvement and best practices for student interactions based on targeted information and sub-populations. A standard process and heightened transparency is creating confidence for our staff, resulting in better engagements with our students.

As part of the new advising process, HCC leaders made the decision to remove all academic programs and levels from the college’s admissions application and replace them with career interest categories, or career clusters, such as health care, business, manufacturing, etc. This move aligns student interest with the Career Cluster initiative developed and/or supported by the NC Department of Commerce, NC Community College System, and the NC Department of Public Instruction. When applying to the college, those interested in attending HCC now select a career cluster that most closely aligns with the career field they are interested in pursuing.

After applying, one of the college’s new success coaches contacts the individual to discuss career fields related to the selected cluster and the programs HCC offers that can navigate them towards that industry. This new admissions process allows the HCC success team the opportunity to guide students towards making better, more informed decisions that have proven to reduce confusion and increase confidence towards selecting the best pathway. Additionally, the pathways project allows for the integration of a true “One-College” model so that students can be connected to programs and opportunities on either the traditional curriculum (for credit) side of operations or areas served by short-term workforce/continuing education.

Just a few months after the launch, HCC has benefited from increased levels of student persistence and academic achievement. In surveying our students, we found that many individuals coming into the college had a preconceived idea of what they wanted to do; however, many lacked a true understanding of what programs or levels they needed to achieve their goals. Through the new success coach advising model, a re-envisioned admissions process focusing on guided pathways, and the use of advising tools such as Aviso, the college is equipped to design and develop a custom retention and student success plan, explore innovative retention strategies, train coaches, define key performance indicators, use data to support targeted action, and build systems for effective tracking and communications.

As a result of these initiatives, HCC has experienced a 75% decrease in non-pay student purge. Additionally, the college has witnessed increased levels of student course completion, persistence, and academic achievement on campus with this comprehensive approach to advising and success coaching. HCC is excited about the future and the positive impact these steps will have on student success for years to come. To learn more about HCC’s Quality Enhancement Plan, visit

Michael Coleman

Dr. Michael Coleman is the vice president of student services at Haywood Community College in Clyde, NC. He also serves as an adjunct doctoral instructor and a dissertation chair for the School of Business at Liberty University. Dr. Coleman is a graduate of Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, NC, where he also served in various roles for many years prior to his current position at HCC. He holds a doctorate in business administration and leadership, an MBA, an MAR in pastoral counseling, a BS in religion, and an AAS in architectural technologies.