Putting the Success in Student Success Center

Melanie Quintanilla, Web Editor-in-Chief

Expanded services and facilities are attracting more students to use the Student Success Center.

Senior professional studies major Diana Kestenbaum said the services helped her make the grade.

“If I did not have the support I have from them I probably would not be graduating. I struggled academically my first two years of college, and that is mainly because I did not use the resources I was being offered. It was not until my junior year that I finally took advantage of my resources and when I did my GPA started rising.”

The SSC offers academic services, including general study skills and learning strategies training, and it offers peer and professional tutoring, which is held in small groups so students can achieve their individual academic goals. Center staff  encourages first year students who are struggling at mid-term to attend an academic support program.

Kestenbaum said the hour-long tutoring sessions helped her prepare for exams, writing assignments and homework.

“During my tutoring session, my tutor would answer questions that we had from when we had had class earlier in the week. I really liked how my tutor was able to break down the class material so that it was much easier to understand. She would provide better examples that were not as confusing as the professor’s.”

The SSC also provides disability services that provide students with academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and other services as required.

“I mainly utilize the test taking services,” said Kestenbaum. “In my accommodations it says that I am allowed to take my tests in a separate location, with a reader, and a scribe. My scribe usually just fills in my Scantron for me because I have a difficult time seeing the bubbles, and I end up putting answers in incorrectly,” said Kestenbaum.

The study rooms located in the SSC is another resource for students who receive disability services. They enable students to study and complete work without any distractions.

Kestenbaum said there were only two study rooms for students who receive disability services her first year, and she said rooms were rarely available. The SSC added two larger rooms making it less “hard to find a quiet space,” said Kestenbaum. There are now four study rooms available for use.

“This has improved services because now there is more room for students to come down and study when they need a quiet area instead of not being able to get a room,” said Kestenbaum.

Another big enhancement of the Student Success Center is its Writing Center. Here, students are assisted in improving their writing capabilities for their academic classes and offered help with writing projects that do not directly relate to academic classes.

Matthew Hinton, Coordinator of Writing, said one of the biggest changes to the Writing Center and the Student Success Center is the new Sunday hours.

“We used to be open for tutoring Monday through Friday. But, the Friday hours saw low numbers in tutoring sessions, and the Writing Center, though occasionally busy in the morning, was often quiet from noon to the Friday closing time of 3 p.m.”

Hinton said new Sunday hours –  1 p.m. to 9 p.m. appeals to those who have full course loads during the week. The schedule also better serves athletes and adult/continuing education students.

“Life is a full-time affair, and I think this is a good step in inviting more students into the Center when it works for them,” said Hinton.

There were 752 student visits to the Writing Center in the 2013-2014 academic year. The following academic year, the Student Success Center employed Matthew Hinton as the new Coordinator of Writing, and the number of visits from individual students quickly spiked to 1,063. A total of 1,862 students visited during the the 2015 to 2016 academic year.

The Writing Center sees more students during fall semesters, which could be indicative of “extra bit anxiety and a dusting off the cobwebs of the summer,” he said. The Center also sees more first year students than any other group throughout the academic year. Hinton said first year students do not always feel prepared for college-level academic writing.

Hinton said usage numbers also increased because he makes it “one of his goals” to appear regularly around campus to remind people of the available services.

“I make several visits to classes very early in the semester, often for a five minute “come to the Writing Center” advertisement to the students. I also conduct in-class workshops on a variety of writing skills. Sometimes these are refresher sessions in grammar, sometimes they are citation workshops, and sometimes they are about a very particular writing style,” said Hinton.

Although it is still early in the year, the Writing Center has conducted over 170 paper consultations since it reopened on Sept. 11.

“In my opinion, I think it indicates a successful resource, in that students have come to rely on it. It is my hope that these trends continue to rise, and everything seems to indicate that we are on track this semester,” said Hinton.

[email protected]