Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Innovation (M.A.)

Degree Program

School of Community Leadership & Development

First Advisor

Krista Benson

Second Advisor

Azfar Hussain

Third Advisor

Raymond Higbea

Academic Year



Student success initiatives have been a focus at many institutions of higher education to help with retention rates but identifying the students who need the student success resources most can be challenging. Scholarships increase access to higher education but do not necessarily contribute to student success. Thus, this research project sought to analyze early alert systems used by mid-sized universities in the U.S. Midwest to help similar institutions in developing their own early alert system. Using mixed methods, this study included a qualitative analysis of institution’s policies and procedures for early warning systems and a quantitative analysis of GVSU institutional data about retention and academic performance of students within a scholarship program. Through inductive coding, 12 early alert systems were analyzed to determine that the ideal early alert system is one that provides the most holistic picture of a student. Early alert systems need to use data from learning management systems to provide real-time feedback about a student’s academic performance. However, the systems also need to account for other factors that can hinder academic success, like health emergencies and food and housing insecurity.