Increase retention for TRIO Program college students with these career exploration tools

No matter how much academic promise a student might have, a lack of resources can foil plans for their higher education. Fortunately, institutions can implement TRIO programs to help. For prospective and current college students who come from underrepresented groups or low-income families, these programs can help buoy enrollment, retention, and persistence. However, the services are limited to federal funding, so any budget awarded to institutions must be used wisely. With this in mind, college and university leaders have a duty to provide their most at-risk students with services that meet them where they are. While TRIO programs alone can’t fund the entire college experience for students, the programs can help in other ways.

Because of the flexibility of TRIO programs – and because future budget approvals are uncertain – it’s critical for institutions to get both creative and selective about where to allocate funds. One consideration is to use TRIO funding to implement career development and self-awareness tools. While the idea of declaring a major and choosing a career path can be stressful for any student, it can feel especially daunting for a disadvantaged student who may not know where to begin. Having the resources to pinpoint their unique interests, abilities, and personality types during the college orientation phase could reduce their uncertainty, motivate them to persist, and increase the likelihood of graduation.

One such resource already being used in TRIO programs across the US is the VitaNavis® platform. It’s a career and essential skills platform that leverages assessments from The Myers-Briggs Company to assess a student’s interests and strengths. The platform then takes those insights and matches students with the majors, programs, and career pathways that would be the best fit for them. At a time fraught with uncertainty for many students, the VitaNavis platform helps them understand what courses to enroll in and how those courses are relevant to their ideal career trajectory. In addition, the analytics and reporting segment of the platform clues educators into data that can help them plan early intervention initiatives, surveys, or other resources for student success.

The VitaNavis platform also helps advisors and counselors tailor their conversations so students understand exactly how to use their unique interests, assessed through the SuperStrong® assessment, to guide important education and career decisions. This is critical because interests are powerful and proven predictors of academic performance, career choices, and overall success. If a student’s interests aren’t related to their field of study or eventual career, they’re more likely to disengage or drop out entirely. For disadvantaged students already at risk of leaving (or not enrolling in the first place), the situation is even more critical. Overall, the VitaNavis platform offers students:

  • Self-awareness so they can translate their interests into action
  • Motivation to persist so they clearly see their trajectory from college to career
  • Admissions toolkits so they can clearly see how their interests fit into an institution
  • Pathway exploration so they make informed decisions about which courses to take
  • Actionable guidance so they can have the right conversations with advisors and counselors


Even when implemented independently (outside of TRIO programs), institutions have seen an increase in student retention and engagement. For example, Hampton University students who used the VitaNavis platform showed a 9.8% higher retention rate compared to peers who didn’t use the platform. And student retention increased by nearly 16% once Lane College implemented the platform.

The earlier the platform is introduced, the better. At Fullerton College, students gain access to the VitaNavis platform right after they complete their enrollment application. This helps ensure that Fullerton students have the resources and insights to make informed decisions right from the start.

Another option for the allocation of TRIO funds is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) assessment, which will be available on the platform in late March 2024. The MBTI helps students gain self-awareness that informs their education and career choices. Through the lens of the MBTI assessment, results would indicate four major preferences that affect which education and career options might be best suited to their personality type:

  1. How they direct and receive energy (Extraversion or Introversion)
  2. How they take in information (Sensing or Intuition)
  3. How they decide and come to conclusions (Thinking or Feeling)
  4. How they approach the outside world (Judging or Perceiving)


The VitaNavis platform, powered by the SuperStrong and MBTI assessments, is particularly useful during the post-high school or college orientation phases – before majors and courses are officially selected. The data provides educators and career counselors with the framework to offer personalized school and career pathway recommendations to each student. And when implemented as a TRIO program, they offer disadvantaged students the self-awareness and motivation to aim high.


Learn more about the VitaNavis platform.

Learn more about the MBTI assessment.


Increase retention for TRIO Program college students with these career exploration tools

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