Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Undergraduate student marketing campaign to clear enrollment holds begins

Student Academic Engagement and Success (SAES) began a multi-modal marketing campaign on October 13 to encourage undergraduate students to clear enrollment holds.

An enrollment hold is an administrative action that prevents a student from enrolling in classes or changing enrollment. Enrollment holds may be related to tuition or miscellaneous account balances, advising holds, missing paperwork or documentation, or incomplete orientation modules, to name a few.

With spring enrollment appointments beginning October 31 for undergraduates, SAES has already started an email, text message, digital signage, and newsletter campaign to raise awareness of holds that may impede enrollment and class selection.

On the first day of the campaign, 2,021 undergraduate students received a tailored email informing them they had one or more enrollment holds. The email contained details as to the type of hold and how to access their my.SMU Student Dashboard to clear or address the hold with the appropriate administrative office.

Over the next two weeks, students can expect reminders in the SMU Connected Wednesday newsletter, on various yard signs and digital signage across the Hilltop, via text message, and more.

Please encourage students to address any enrollment holds as soon as possible so they have a clear path to enrollment and graduation. Questions about the campaign can be directed to

Peer Academic Leaders Student Success & Retention

Ask a Mustang: A resource for new and current students

Ask a Mustang is a pop-up Q&A table hosted by the Office of Student Success and Retention, with volunteer support from staff and students. It’s located at popular student spots and serves as an informal platform for students to ask questions about all aspects of student life. Sessions are held at key points during the term, including the beginning of the semester, enrollment periods, and finals preparation.

Our first Ask a Mustang session this fall featured the SMU Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) and took place on September 5th and 6th in the morning hours at Fondren Library, near Starbucks. During this two-day event, we invited students to ask questions to SSR and the PALs, as well as share their SMU experiences.

We had a total of 44 student participants (6 first-year students, 10 sophomores, 8 juniors, 18 seniors, and 2 graduate students), many of whom shared insights on our question board: ‘What do you wish you knew before coming to SMU?’ and ‘What advice would you offer to new students?’ Here are some notes left by students:”

  • “Study hard! You are not alone, reach out if you need help!”
  • “Find out about SMU’s resources, they have everything!”
  • “Don’t miss classes. Prioritize mental health. Have a balance.”
  • A-LEC provides tutoring and (professor) office hours are helpful too!”
  • “Keep your priorities straight and focus on school and make good relationships with professors.”
  • “Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying.”

We’ll have our second Ask a Mustang session during the enrollment period and the final round during the preparation for finals. We look forward to seeing you there!

p.s. Lesson learned – sometimes giving someone something free is not as attractive as asking for help. We attracted 10X students with the question, “Would you be willing to help new students” vs. “Would you like a free cookie? ”

Student Success & Retention

The first cohort of the Crossing the Finish Line program graduated this spring

To help more students graduate from SMU within six years, University Decision Support, academic advisors, and school record offices partnered with the Office of Student Success and Retention (SSR) to identify undergraduate students who have left SMU close to graduation based on credit hours but have not graduated from another university. Branded as Crossing the Finish Line, the new program sought to re-engage students to complete their SMU degree.  

Once identified, SSR invited select students to participate in a cohort who received academic and financial support to complete their undergraduate degrees at SMU. During the Spring of 2023, 2 out of the 11 students that received invitations from SSR decided to return to SMU and complete their degrees. Both students in the first cohort of the Crossing the Finish Line program graduated in May. 

SSR Success Counselor Ivy Phillips closely monitored these students’ academic progress throughout the semester. Additionally, Phillips met with them every two weeks to check in and address any student issues or concerns.  

Thanks to the Crossing the Finish Line program, one student earned her degree and received a job offer from her dream company. She began working for the company in May. Another student shared: 

I can whole-heartedly say that Ivy played a massive role in my success in completing my final semester. She helped me set deadlines, schedule out time to complete my assignments amidst my busy work schedule, monitored my grades, and also urged me to get involved with SMU’s student and career/ financial literacy programs… Ivy, alongside the wonderful Janet Stephens and my Meadows professors, all gave me the push I needed to finally get this degree done. Couldn’t have done it without them!”

The SSR team is currently identifying and inviting students to join the second cohort of the Crossing the Finish Line program. We look forward to re-engaging more students and helping them cross the finish line of graduation!