Alyssa Sutton

Eastern Oregon University has created a program over the last few years that will help keep struggling students in college.

The Credit Recovery Program is relatively new, according to Nathan Lowe, the program director and the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at EOU.

“(The program was) designed by faculty and tailored for a select group of eligible students, usually in their first year at Eastern, who are in danger of failing a course that would put their academic and/or financial future at (the college) at risk,” Lowe wrote in an email filtered through Eastern’s University Advancement department. “Credit Recovery provides alternative ways to maintain the needed number of credits that will support student’s academic progress and allow them to stay in school.”

Lowe explained while Eastern offers an assortment of academic and personal support services for students, there are certain unique life circumstances and challenges students face when transitioning into college that may not always be supported through the traditional student services.

“Basically, with adviser consultation and approval based on the circumstances of (the student’s) progress in a course at week six of the term, a small number of students may register for Credit Recovery to avoid failing a course when no other option is available,” Lowe wrote.

In the last four weeks of each term, three faculty-designed courses are offered that students in the program can swap their failing credits for, with no additional tuition cost or loss of credit.

“Only up to five credits are available in any given term,” Lowe wrote. “A student may end up taking one, two or all three credit recovery courses in a given term to avoid losing credit.”

Essentially, struggling students can replace the equivalent of one course with the credit recovery courses each term.

University Advancement would not tell The Observer how many students have been involved in the Credit Recovery Program this year, or during the spring term. The department referred to the email Lowe sent through them, stating there were “a small number of students,” and if a specific number was printed they could be identifiable.

“The courses are designed to build individual self-efficacy; practice college-level academic skills like research, communication and critical thinking; and engage them in creative curriculum that often requires them to attend campus events and performances or build individual career plans,” Lowe wrote.

Referring to a story printed by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lowe stated that “only 61 percent of freshman nationwide return for the next year at the same college.”

“(Eastern) is not alone in that we find the reasons for this are many and unique to each student, and they are seen at higher levels in first-generation and underrepresented populations of students,” he wrote, listing reasons such as lack of preparation for success with college-level work, a family or financial crisis, personal health and wellness issues, balancing school with work, or simply feeling alone in their environment. “Credit Recovery offers a lifeline to those students who have unique struggles.”

According to a recent study by Chapman University, 30 percent of higher-education students are first-generation students, while 24 percent are both first-generation and low-income.

“As a new dean, I am engaged with a group of faculty and advisers to take a look at the efficacy of the Credit Recovery program on students’ lives. We know that this program has made a significant impact on the lives of individual students in the two years it has been offered, but it will be valuable for the college to compare the nuanced and complex stories of individual students to a more comprehensive data analysis on the program,” Lowe wrote.
“This is part of our mission as a university that serves the region: to know the students who enter our classrooms, to be innovative in our approach to supporting their academic success toward graduation and to be recursive in our practices to best fill their changing educational and life needs.”