Helping ensure success for the Class of 2017
By Megan Sexton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-1421
Eric Moschella, director of USC’s Student Success Center, has a simple goal for his office: Find the best ways to help college students be successful in the classroom.
“We know everyone who has been admitted here can do the work. We also know college is hard and it’s an adjustment,” Moschella says. “We want students to know we are here to help. Don’t wait until you are struggling. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. Let us help make you more efficient.”
This year, before first-year students arrive on the USC campus in August, each will receive a personal email from an academic success coach. The 19 professional staff members in Student Success Center will be assigned a group of incoming students who they will contact throughout the semester, checking on their progress, fielding their questions and directing them to appropriate programs such as Supplemental Instruction or Cross-Campus College Advising.
“We want to let students know we are here for them and let them connect a face and a name with the services. We want to make a large class feel a little smaller,” Moschella says. “Little things make a huge difference with students. Typically students are shy with academic support. We want to get students comfortable.”
The success coaches are part of a new effort by the SSC called Success Connect, an early intervention program for first-year students. Success Connect also features a system that allows faculty members to let the SSC know about undergraduate students who are having academic difficulties. Faculty members will fill out an online, confidential referral form to alert the Student Success Center to students who are missing class, struggling with coursework or experience general academic challenges.
The SSC staff will take it from there – following up with students, learning about the issues and directing them to the proper place for help.
So far, the Student Success Center is working with teachers in University 101, English 101-102, classes where Supplement Instruction is used and with faculty members who have previously worked with the SSC. He called faculty’s response to the referral program “great.”
“One of the challenges faculty members have, especially with some of the big classes, is knowing what to say to students who are having problems. We’re hoping this eases that conversation,” he says. “The greatest indicator of retention is a connection with faculty. If we can facilitate that, it’s great.”
Moschella says the Student Success Center staff is also excited about the new program, saying he’s “hoping we’ll be overwhelmed” with student requests this fall.
“We will be a little more intrusive than we’ve been in the past because we have an obligation to help students be successful,” he said. “Once students come to the Student Success Center they love to use our services. We are all here because we like students and we want to see them succeed.”