Higher Education

25Jan 2017
McLennan Completion Summit 2017

Our partner and client, McLennan Community College, is hosting a Completion Summit on Friday, February 17. If you are near the Waco, TX area, we hope you can join us!

Completion Summit 2017

Building Success: Tools to Help Students Complete
February 17, 2016
McLennan Community College
Waco, TX

Session Topics: (tentative schedule)

  • Gaining Faculty Buy-In: Creating a Network of Care
  • How Do You Measure It? Assessment Techniques for the Hard to Quantify
  • Academic Coaching: Who, What, Where, and Why
  • Resources for Completion: Supporting Special Populations
  • Financial Literacy
  • Early Alert

24Jan 2017

We’re so excited to kick off our 2017 conference season by attending CCCU’s Presidents Conference again in Washington, DC. Our President, Matt Boisvert, will be in attendance and hopes you’ll stop by our table to find out how Relational Retention empowers your plan! We’re proud to serve our CCCU schools and be a silver level sponsor of this event.

CCCU 2017 Presidents Conference

2017 Presidents Conference
January 25 – 27, 2016
The Washington Court Hotel
Washington, DC

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

19Jan 2016

Data is a tool. Student Engagement is the work. Can I get an Amen?

Can we just start saying this over and over as our mantra:

Data is a tool.

Student Engagement is the work.

I was talking to a friend recently who works in the world of higher ed data.  He is a master of providing data to help schools identify which students are likely to struggle.

I asked him what support and intervention is provided for the identified at-risk students. He looked surprised and said,  “Oh, you know!” as he wiggled his fingers dismissively. I frowned and he continued, “but once they do all the whatever (here the finger wiggle again), we can capture the retention of those students.”

He went on, but I stopped listening because I was really unhappy about his finger wiggle! Did he just “yada, yada, yada” all the weighty work I know student engagement and support entails?! Continue reading

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.
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

04Jun 2015

At Pharos, we talk a lot about student care and what a university should provide. We go to tremendous lengths to work with you (our client) to see what your vision is for your campus and how we can adapt our services to fit your needs; it’s all about you and what you provide for your student.

As a full-time student and part-time intern with Pharos, I see how easy it is to get lost in your plans and forget that it all boils down to one question:

What do your students need?


So today I was asked to write about what a university owes its students from the perspective of a student, and I’m happy to oblige. I truly hope it helps your university and classrooms to understand what students really look for in your school. Continue reading

28May 2015

An institution’s mission statement is the cornerstone of its very existence; it’s what governs all of your school’s activities. Everything from faculty, to staff, to admissions, to curriculum, to landscaping, to dorm culture, and everything in between is a reflection of your institution’s mission. With so many independent pieces, it’s easy for that mission to get muddled up.

But not to worry! We’re here with five easy questions that you can ask yourself and your institution to make sure you live up to the promises you make. 

Continue reading

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