Font Smaller Font Bigger Font Normal Font Size

Finish in 4

Over the last 3 years, Dillard University has re-committed to making sure that students are provided with the resources they need to make earning their degree in 4 years not only a possibility, but a reality.  This commitment is important because it demonstrates that we understand the benefits that await our students once they have earned their degrees.  Additionally, we are clear that delaying graduation causes long term income lost that many students will never be able to recoup.  (


Our approach is strategic and consistent.  We have identified key areas that have created barriers for our students and worked to address those obstacles in an intentional way.  While navigating the Finish In 4 website, you will learn more about the specific strategies we are implementing to support our students through their academic journey at Dillard.  Specifically, you will be able to learn more about the following strategic initiatives:

  • The Dillard University Retention Strategy (The Student Integration Model for Success)
  • The Academic Center for Excellence (First-Year Programs)
  • Academic Advising
  • Financial Aid Resources
  • Second-Year Experience
  • Undergraduate Research


Retention Strategy

The Student Integration Model for Success (SIMS) was created to provide a holistic framework to address the needs of all students.  The model identifies 7 different areas (Academic, Administrative, Career, Financial, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual) that affect students’ successful matriculation at Dillard.  Our approach is to create programs and policies, as well as dismantle barriers across these 7 areas that will facilitate students being successful. It is important to note that at the center of our model is a reminder that Student Success is Everybody’s Business!


  • The basic premise of student success requires a holistic
  • Students who are partners in the educational process are more likely to succeed in their educational pursuits.
  • Student learning and achievement should be a collaborative effort among all community stakeholders -- between faculty, staff, administration, alumni, trustees, community, and, of course, students themselves.
  • The student success efforts begin before the student enters Dillard and continues until the student has reached his or her final goal—graduation.


The Academic Center for Excellence

A foundational pillar for the Finish in Four campaign are the programs offered through University College’s Academic Center for Excellence. A goal of the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), is to create a national model for providing holistic academic and social care to students from our particular demographic.  Within the ACE, the programs and staff work collaboratively to improve the retention efforts and academic success of all students as they matriculate through the first two years of their collegiate experience at Dillard University.




First-Year Experience Programs

First- Year Experiences and learning communities have been identified through national research as two forms of high-impact practices that are proven to be beneficial to students regardless of their backgrounds ( ). The goal of the First-Year Experience Program (FYEP) assists students in achieving a successful transition into Dillard University during their first year of college.  This goal is accomplished through the coordination of the First-year Learning Communities, First-Year Seminars, University Convocation, Academic Advising, Service Learning, and Academic Success Workshops.  These programs provide a coordinated effort to support first-year students in becoming active and engaged members of the Dillard community. 

A key strategy to graduating in 4 years, is to ensure that students are enrolled in 15 credit hours every semester (or 30 hours per year) (  One way that we increase the likelihood that students will enroll in 15 hours is through our First-year Learning Communities (FLC).   

The FLC model utilized at Dillard is based on the intentional placement of first-year students in academic communities with other students who have identified similar academic interests (also called meta-majors) to enhance their orientation to collegiate life.   Placing students with others who are likely to major in the same academic discipline increases their study and social networks. (


Benefits and organization of FLCs

  • Coordination of 3-4 general education courses that are linked through curriculum and assignments
  • Facilitation of intentional interaction and experiences to create a smoother transition from high school to university life
  • Directed and more frequent connections with other students and faculty, as well as the overall campus and New Orleans communities
  • Attainment of higher GPAs, increased retention rates and decreased time-to-graduation




Academic Advising

Making the proper choice for classes and for activities that support the learning experience (for example, internships or research opportunities) can be difficult.  Each student has an assigned academic advisor to guide them through this process.  During the first year, students are advised through the ACE. After students have completed 30 credit hours, they move to their academic departments to continue with their advising.


The advising model used at Dillard is a proactive approach which calls for us to be highly involved with the students’ course selections and academic plan.  The model follows the guidelines established by the National Association of Academic Advising (NACADA).


Benefits of centralized academic advising

  • Increased cohesion of the learning process and decreased likelihood of course substitutions
  • One centralized location for any questions related to courses within the General Education curriculum, as well as individual majors
  • A more streamlined communication between students and administration related to registration, advising, and curricular questions
  • Fewer individuals advising students on General Education core requirements and a centralized auditing process for assessment of degree requirements, which will increase consistency in advising.





Second-Year Experience

Dillard University’s Second-Year Experience Program (SYEP) is a collaborative initiative focused on identifying strategic ways to increase the level of engagement of students returning for the second year.  In accordance with national trends, Dillard students returning for year 2 often express concerns related to academic aptitude, financial insecurity, major and career selection, faculty connectivity and self-efficacy. These challenges can contribute to students electing to disengage with the institution and ultimately not returning and/or graduating. 


The primary goal of Dillard’s SYEP is to create experiences for second-year students to become more engaged in all aspects of the academic and co-curricular activities at Dillard and within the New Orleans community.  Dillard’s institutional data indicates that students who return for the 3rd year, graduate within 4.5 years of their initial matriculation. 


The implementation of a second-year experience program builds on the foundational pillars established in the first-year experience with a focus on increasing the opportunities for students to participate in activities specifically geared toward the development of 21st century skills, building confidence in their major and career selections, and a broader understanding of the relationship between their complete collegiate experience with their evolution into successful individuals post-graduation.  Most importantly, the integration of a broad range of student engagement initiatives during the second year are expected to support the efforts of the Student Success Project by increasing the retention rate from the second to third year.


The determination of the strategic initiatives in our SYE program are based on Dillard’s institutional data that has identified specific areas which support student retention in conjuction with our retention model, the Student Integration Model for Success.




Student Integration Model for Success











  • Undergraduate Research Activity (workshop, project, presentation, research assistants)
  • School and Department Inductions
  • Expanded knowledge of "What Can I Do With this Major"
  • Participate in a major exploration during advising






  • Submit an academic plan









  • Participate in a networking activity
  • Registered in Bleu Pride Guide and use it regularly
  • Submitted at least 5 applications for internships
  • Completed at least 1 job shadowing experience
  • Completed at least 3 Career Coaching Sessions with CCPD
  • Volunteer in a University department related to your field
  • Alumni Relations
  • Center for Career and Professional Development (CPPD)
  • Faculty (professors & academic advisors)
  • Office of Undergraduate Research
  • University College







  • Financial Literacy Workshops focused on:

              -student debt

              -credit worthiness






  • Participate in a self-care activity (workshops, yoga)
  • Complete socio-psycho self-assessment
  • Complete Growth Mindset activity






  • Participate in a community service project (associated with the major)
  • Join a student organization affiliated with your major or career interest





  • Participate in Chapel Service (at least once)
  • Attend a spiritual retreat/development program





At Dillard University, we encourage students to "Finish in 4" years. Staying on Track and Maintaining Financial Aid eligibility is crucial for students to Finish in 4! Here are some links that may help you with your journey to graduation.


Helpful Information:

Financial Literacy:



Additional Resources



Student's Who Have Finished in 4!



Alexis Cole



Frank Duplessis



Jourdan Clark



Sarah Caldwell







Benjamin et al: A better quality of life for New Orleans students

President Kimbrough pens letter in support of Ka Mauri Harrison

Computer science major Dalcourt:  HBCU Student Ambassador Voices: My Journey in Trusting the Process

Dean Broady:  We Shall Overcome: HBCUs > COVID-19

Alumnus Daniel:  The Talk: What I Must Teach My Black Son About Living in America

President Kimbrough:  In troubled times, HBCUs are leading the way

Board Chair Jones:  A Center for Racial Justice at Dillard, Where Black Lives Have Always Mattered

President Kimbrough:  No More Statements

AD Barnes:  Diversity & Inclusion Is Everybody's Business (p. 80)

President Kimbrough:  A Fall Unlike Any I Have Seen

Turner:  How I transitioned my college algebra course to digital platforms

Fos white paper:  COVID-19: A Health Disparity Preliminary Findings

Lesen:  Coronavirus will exacerbate existing health inequities

Kimbrough:  Real rivalry between New Orleans and Atlanta should extend beyond the gridiron

VP Barnes:  The road to HBCU self-sustainability

Kimbrough:  How alternative facts can create fake HBCU news





2601 Gentilly Boulevard
New Orleans, Louisiana 70122

Dillard University Seal