Ventures Spring 2017 - Page 16

PATH(S) TO SUCCESS PATH(S) TO SUCCESS Putting Students on the Path(s) to Success by Sherry Bithell Students walking into Garrison Hall South, the home and resources, and guide them through a process of success coaches help students develop individualized plans for transition successfully in to their sophomore and later years? We of the new Center for Student Success, find themselves developing individualized plans for success.” success and supports them in all aspects of their college lives: want to get to know them. If students feel connected, they tend faced with three doors: to the right, the Office of Student Additionally, she says, the center gives students a way academic, personal, social, and career. The goal is that by their to do better. We build trust and in return they are pretty honest Success; directly ahead, the John L. Stasiak Academic to explore other resources that promote their academic sophomore year, students are equipped to navigate their college with us.” Link; and to the left, the Experiential Learning Center. success, such as tutoring and experiential learning experience.” During their sophomore year, students work with Disability Services is another resource located in the Office It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure story: Which opportunities, and to engage and connect with other faculty advisors who can use their discipline expertise to share of Student Success, providing individual services and support to doorway should they enter? Because of what the new members of the campus community. information about their specific academic programs, coursework students with disabilities. In addition, this office collaborates requirements, internships, research opportunities, and more. with various campus partners to ensure equal access to center’s centralized location offers, the answer could be “all of them.” Although the Center for Student Success is new, the University has long offered the services that now are all found in Garrison Hall South. As Christine Moran, Ph.D., Dean of Student Success, points out, what the center really offers is a centralized location for easy access to coaching, advising, and support. “In universities across the country, student retention often drops between freshman and sophomore years,” says Moran. “We believe the center’s services and resources will help students maximize their academic potential, persist in their studies, and go on to graduate. For example, our Student Success Coaches assist traditional freshmen with their transition to college, educate students about University-wide expectations The Office of Student Success Terra Hall, Director of Student Support, was quick to learn one immediate benefit of the center’s location. “With the greater visibility of our offices, students and faculty are more prone to dropping in. We’re between the Brown School of Business and Leadership and the Rockland Center, so students walk past us all day. If there are students walking by whom I’ve been trying to contact, I can see them and walk out the door to talk with them.” Because of this centralized location, Hall says, the center connects Stevenson’s mission of meeting students where they are—physically as well as personally. The Office of Student Success, which helps transition freshmen students into college life, provides a holistic and comprehensive support network, says Moran. “Our As noted earlier in this article, retention is a national issue educational opportunities and facilitates accommodations that when it comes to getting students to return for their sophomore assist students in achieving their academic and professional year. Yet Tasha Gooden, Director of Student Success, says goals. that the office drills down even further, focusing on freshmen Overall, Moran says of the Office of Student Success, “Our retention from fall to spring—and that Stevenson’s doing well in approach empowers students to take ownership of their academic that area with a 93.6 percent retention rate. success from the very beginning and provides a pathway for “Having one person you can go to as a resource, I feel, is students identify and overcome obstacles that may impede their what has kept some students here,” she says. All freshmen are individual progress while allowing them to set goals and follow assigned to a Student Success Coach with whom they have four through on steps to achieve those goals.” mandatory meetings in the fall and t hree in the spring. Within the first 10 days of school, the office saw 86 percent of the freshmen student body. Gooden, who currently serves as one of the office’s five coaches, says that the goal is to build a relationship with the students. “I see the success coaching team also serving as life coaches to our students. How do we get students settled here and empower them to make the choices that will allow them to 14 | VENTURES/SPRING 2017 The Academic Link Building on that model is the office’s new proximity to the John L. Stasiak Academic Link. Philip Gillett, Manager of the Academic Link on the Owings Mills campus, says he’s already seen change for the better, calling the new location “more prominent.” STEVENSON.EDU | 15