The Percy Ellis Sutton SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) Program at Lehman College is an educational opportunity program of the City University of New York. Inaugurated in 1968 the SEEK program targets students who have demonstrated motivation and potential for college success but do not meet traditional admissions requirements and need academic and financial assistance to succeed in college. Beyond providing a means for these students to enter a CUNY senior college, a prospect not otherwise available to students with their academic and economic profiles, SEEK provides an array of important support services to help them complete in a competitive academic environment. Services include counseling, advisement, supplemental instruction and tutoring focused on student persistence/retention, academic performance and graduation and fostering the non-cognitive skills and attributes needed for college and career success.
The overall mission of SEEK is to provide access to higher education to historically underserved students in an effort to increase their level of education, social capital, and workforce preparedness. SEEK fulfills its mission by providing a range of specialized support and enrichment programs and activities dedicated to encouraging SEEK student learning, performance, persistence, and graduation. SEEK at Lehman College aims to contribute to closing the New York equity gap in college completion rates by increasing its retention and graduation rates and ensuring that students make timely progress toward degree completion.
Over the last eight years, the SEEK Program at Lehman College has implemented a number of strategies that they believe have contributed to improved outcomes in retention, performance, graduation and other areas.
· The SEEK program supports about 855 full-time undergraduates and enrolls 225 freshman each year; 73% are Latino.
· There was a 21% increase in the first-year retention rate of Latino students from 2007 to 2012, from 67% to 88% and a 29% increase in second-year retention rates of Latinos over the same period.
· The average cumulative GPA for the 2007 entering cohort was 2.46 and the average cumulative GPA for the 2013 cohort was 2.97.
· SEEK’s six-year graduation rate for Latinos increased from 29% (cohort 2007) to 43% (cohort 2008).
· One program component, Reaching into the Science Experience (RISE) initiative, targeted students interested in STEM and health careers by providing them with science-focused supplemental academic support services, including year-round science preparation workshops. An analysis of their grade distribution in science courses showed 74% passed with a grade of “C” or higher. Prior to RISE only 41% of their students were earning similar grades.