Understand transformation

Understanding Transformation

This website builds on research stemming from the transformation journeys of 13 Frontier Set institutions. From this study, a Transformational Model was developed as a framework for postsecondary institutions seeking to dramatically improve their operational efficiency and the effectiveness of their student success initiatives.

To explore the ideas, tools, and approaches that these institutions have employed, please follow the links of interest below. Consider the Executive Summaries as a useful starting point for relevant overviews of the two bodies of research.


To explore specific aspects of the model and the research, from synthesized learnings, hypotheses, and common threads, click on the links below.


Pathways refer to the institution’s ability to help students see a clear route to a meaningful credential (and a career) and then support students to keep them on that path to success.

Solution Areas

Solution areas are student-facing programs and services in which the institution attempts to improve student outcomes.

Operating Capacities

These reflect critical functions that enable the institution to effectively implement and deliver student-centered solutions. They broadly enable the institution to mobilize and more effectively serve a larger, more diverse student base.

Manage change.

Implementing a student success vision requires clear, strategic, and multi-stage communications and change management planning to meaningfully engage all stakeholders.

Develop and manage leaders.

Institutions recognize the link between developing, managing, and promoting their talent as foundational to transforming student success.

Forge partnerships.

Engaging with local, state, and national policy-makers and serving as educational influencers and advisers provides institutions with another channel to support transformation.

Invest in software and hardware.

IT enables support for transformation functions such as early alerts, pathways, and data analysis, as well as collaboration, including between academic and student services.

Identify resources and evaluate impact.

Institutions maximize their economic model by enhancing their financial decision-making options through budgeting and revenue generation.