Encounter to Excellence

Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
First Year Support


To improve Hispanic student success Encounter to Excellence has two components: Summer Developmental Education Academy and Student Success Services. The goal is to assist academically underprepared Hispanic students admitted to the university with an oversubscribed student success services infrastructure and to permanently increase retention and graduation rates for Hispanic students.

Program Description

Encounter to Excellence has been designed to permanently increase the institution’s capacity to dramatically shift the number of freshmen students achieving success during their first two years. After carefully reviewing the retention rates, student grade point averages, survey data on quality of life, and the qualitative data, the university gave the program close to $1 million to work with all freshmen.


Retention data reveal that despite entering the university with lower math and English entrance exam scores, SAT scores, and GPAs, the 104 students who entered through the Encounter to Excellence program in 2009 were retained at 20% points higher after one year than the rest of the freshmen cohort, 86% versus 66%

After one year, the Encounter to Excellence 2010 cohort of 180 students again outpaced the retention of the rest of the freshman cohort by 20 percentage points: 94% versus 74%. The cohort earned GPAs that were approximately .20 - .40 points higher than students in the comparison group.

In 2012 (after two years), the above cohort remained 18% points ahead with an 82% versus 64% retention rate.