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Supporting Biomedical Students Struggling With Second-Choice-Syndrome to Thrive Rather Than Just Survive First Year

, Glenn J. Harrison

Abstract: The James Cook University (JCU) Biomedical Science students struggle with their first year and “second-choice-syndrome” as evidenced by high inter-degree transfer rates and low primary degree completions despite the cohort having high subject or unit grade point averages. This project evaluated the impact of two extracurricular support initiatives (email newsletters and themed luncheons) to deliver just-in-time information and support on student engagement and success. Students and academics rated the initiatives highly with positive support themes of networking, collegiality, belonging and engagement; there was no direct improvement in subject grades or degree satisfaction metrics. However, there was an increase in degree, college, and university student retention. It is becoming increasingly important to recognize and separate the classic academic measures of grades as an indication of success and that more personal or social support is required for students to thrive regardless of cohort demographics or career path. A student’s initial experience on campus is important and influences students’ persistence in higher education and their believed capabilities.
Keywords: biomedical / success / engagement / student / grades / Struggling / survive / second / Thrive / Themed

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