15Dec 2015

I love the rhythm of the academic life. We are finishing the season of work and entering the season of rest.

Andy Crouch recently said, We are made for work and rest, not for toil and leisure.

What a great reminder.

Friends, we have worked hard!  And…we get do good, important and meaningful work.

Matthew Litchfield added this to the conversation: “Sabbathless life ends up w/neither true work nor true rest, but w/frantic & ineffective activity punctuated by couch-potato lethargy.

I intend to rest this season. I hope you will too.

Enjoy your winter rest.
03Dec 2015

For the last few weeks we have been talking about how to determine whether the students you are serving are Red-flag students or At-risk students.

Here are the five principles I use to guide me as I engage students and honor their autonomy:

1 Win them over

First, students have to believe that you are on their team and want them to be successful. In this relationship, students must know that you will be a reliable, responsive, empathetic, and trustworthy partner. Continue reading

02Dec 2015

We’re excited to join Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at their annual meeting in Houston, Texas. This year’s theme is “New Energy for Higher Education”. Matt Boisvert, Michael Lewis, and Rachel Phillips-Buck will be exhibiting and hope you’ll stop by!



New Energy for Higher Education
December 5-8, 2015
George R. Brown Convention Center
Houston, TX

Will you be in attendance? Let us know and we’ll look forward to seeing you!

17Nov 2015

We were recently working with an institution and every time Matt and I talked about Early Alert as a positive resource for At-risk students, we were met with resistance. My insistence that there was no shame in being managed in an Early Alert program was met with looks of disbelief. Finally, after three days of working to reframe Early Alert, someone in the room said…

Students will never think that being identified as a Red-flag student is positive!

This was an epiphany. Wait. What? I am not talking about Red-flag students! Every time I said “At-risk students,” our clients were thinking “Red-flag students”. I am here to tell you, these are NOT the same thing! Continue reading

10Nov 2015

I bet you have some Dust Bunny Data at your campus. Don’t act like you don’t know what we are talking about. Dust Bunny Data is data that just sits around, unused, and collects dust. It took a lot of effort (and budget) to gather it, and the intention was that it would be a powerful tool to understand your students and inform your practices. But…no one ever looks at it.

That’s a problem. Continue reading

21Oct 2015

Today’s blog post was inspired by a recent conversation I had with Rachel Phillips-Buck, our VP for Student Success. It went something like this…

Rachel: Matt, I have a great example for your blog topic today. Can I share it?

Matt: Yes, please.

Rachel: Once, when I was visiting a campus, I got locked in a bathroom stall. When I finally managed to escape, I asked the students in the restroom if they knew the lock on that stall stuck. They said, “Yes, you just have to remember not to use it.”

Matt: Exactly what I want to talk about. Everyone knows the truth about your campus. You can’t hide the things that are old, broken, worn, outdated, or useless from your community. Everything on your campus tells the story of value, importance, and quality. Everything speaks.

Continue reading

13Oct 2015

I was an at-risk student

You will hear me say often, and loudly, that I was an at-risk student. I know what it feels like to not be living up to one’s potential. I am also intimately familiar with the feeling that no one on campus can see me; no one cares that I am not doing well, no one is paying attention to my struggling, and most devastating- that no one is offering me any help.


Automatic notice: You’re failing

iPhone Missed Class Think for just a second what it means to a student in that state of mind to receive an automatic email that says something like, “You have 5 absences in your history class. Please be advised that if you miss one more, you will be dropped from the class. If you have any questions, talk to your faculty or your advisor.”





Continue reading

01Sep 2015




1. a state or condition of confusion, movement, or agitation; disorder

2. (meteorol) local instability in the atmosphere, oceans, or rivers

3. turbulent flow in a liquid or gas

Middle School – UGH!

It’s the start of a new school year. Which means this week I was instantly forced to accept that my oldest is now a middle schooler. He is getting older and I can’t hold him back. I realized as I was driving him to his new school that this transition was going to be difficult and stressful… it has been years since I worried about him at school. Now, there is so much to consider: new experiences, rules, processes, teachers, students, challenges…Last week, hundreds of new middle schoolers poured out of their parents’ cars and anxiously walked through the front doors alone. My son went in without me.

Continue reading

14Jul 2015
Saving One Student

Growing up I always had the incredible support from my family. My mom and dad never spared the praise whenever I would do something—no matter how small. We went on tons of family vacations and spent time together: on the lake, camping, at Six Flags, or even just playing Frisbee across the street at the park. It was always a fun adventure and my little sister and I never lacked support. We were always encouraged to do well and succeed. We were promised that, no matter what, we would have their undying love. My family life seemed like a perfect little bubble until my parents divorced. Continue reading