GRIT Program Preps Students for Success

Motivated students who fall short of meeting college admission requirements are receiving a boost at MSUM.

Conditionally admitted students—often those with good GPAs but low test scores—are invited to join the GRIT Program. The program’s acronym stands for growth, resilience, initiative and transformation and is a nod to one of MSUM’s foundational values.

“We see the potential that these students have,” said Michael Harwood, associate vice president for student success. “They have the drive and talent. What they need is support and encouragement.”

Historically underserved students, such as domestic students of color and new Americans, are also invited to be part of GRIT.

GRIT students are paired with a success coach and take part in experiences to build confidence in their academic skills. Students meet with a career coach who helps them think about employment after college.

Students also are encouraged to live in a learning community where they live with others who share the same major. They take at least two common classes together. Each learning community also has peer mentors who assist with the transition to college, including both social and academic adjustments.

“We know that connection and relationship with peers are important to student success,” Harwood said. “We want to keep these students here and position them to be successful.”

The program has shown success in retaining students. Last year 80% of GRIT students who started in the fall returned in the spring semester. Even with COVID-19 disrupting classes, 68% of those students came back this fall.

Previously, that retention percentage had been closer to 50%.

The GRIT program recently received $10,000 through the Minnesota State Shark Tank innovation competition. The competitive grant supports educational innovations across the state university system.

The money will support a graduate assistant who works in the academic support center and coaches GRIT students.

“Everyone should have access to education,” Harwood said. “We know that education means a better job, a better life. This grant backs up what we believe in.”

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