Post Classifieds

New center helps students succeed

By Ben Cottrell
On December 8, 2010

    A new student resource has been added to the Norwich campus this year.  This center has been created to improve students' overall performance. The center combines multiple resources into one location, according to the center's director

    "We created the Student Success Center (SSC) to help in three areas: Support, success, and satisfaction," said Shelby Wallace, the Director of the Student Success Center. "It's about those three areas, and how we help improve the experience of our students."

    The SSC was started this year in October. It is a new approach to helping students, being tested for the first time at Norwich.

    "In the past, the school would concentrate heavily on retention, and specifically that," Wallace said. "Retention is an institutional definition, about numbers, increased revenue, etc. The students ask, ‘what does retention do for me?'"

    "We've changed this outlook- Retention seemed to have a negative connotation. Now, we seek to improve the quality of education first. This is why we're here, to assist as advocates of the students," Wallace said.

    The Student Success center is available to all students. The center's purpose is to hear any input from students, and work to improve the quality of education for those students.

    Stephen Looke, the Transition and Academic Success Coach, is a part of the center: "I spend most of my work in the center helping students with transition. This is usually the transition from a high school environment, to a college environment."

    "I also work with students on a variety of transitional situations: Coming from a foreign country, coming to school from across the continental U.S.," Looke said, "There's a whole range of transitional issues that need to be addressed. These issues can have a significant effect on a student's experience here."

    Transition is only one of the fields the SSC works in. They have access to all other campus resources, allowing the SSC to handle any problems a student may be experiencing. Academics are still a vital component of the center.

    The center's mission statement includes what it supports: "We assist students with programs that provide social adjustment, academic and financial support, and academic advising. Our focus is on the support, success, and satisfaction of all Norwich students."

    The mission statement continues: "The center provides the guidance, support, and advocacy for all individual students to significantly improve the integration necessary to enhance the quality of their college experience."

    Offering a wide range of support topics, the center is always ready to assist any student. However, academics are still a major portion of the center's purpose.

    "With academics being the most stressful part of the college experience, we are given all the tools necessary to assist students in their studies," said Peg Meyer, the Director of Academic Achievement and Educational Effectiveness.

    "We can guide a student to any professor, mentor, tutor, or classmate they need, to get them on track with their schoolwork. If necessary, we can set them up with the Academic Achievement Center as well. Whatever tools the student needs, we are the toolbox, opened for them," Meyer said.

    Peg Meyer is the current director of the AAC. She was called upon to join the Student Success Center, for easy access to academic resources. Meyer has been assigned an "expanded role" to facilitate communication between the AAC and the SSC.

    The center is currently run by three team members. If necessary, there are plans to increase the number of people working in the SSC, after the center has proven itself with time to be effective. The members of the team have seen excellent results in the first few weeks.

    "I've had students come in here with immense problems, a combination of issues on top of academics," Wallace said. "We've been able to get them assistance, and they have already seen improvements in their performance."

    "If we need to, we can increase the number of people working here. But that's really only if we need to open up another area of help, for now, we've been able to get these students what they need."

    The center, being new, has not been advertised to the campus yet. An open house will be held for the center, to show the campus what it's for, and how it works.

    "When we have an open house soon, we'll be able to advertise ourselves. Then students will know, we're here, for them. For right now, we're just running on word of mouth." Wallace said.

    Another program has been created this year, alongside the Student Success Center.

    The Corps of Cadets is taking measures to combine student leadership and academic assistance, with the CAM (Cadet Academic Mentor) program, started this year. CAMs are academically sound cadets, assigned rank and responsibility to help freshmen get the resources they need to perform.

    "I was a chair for a committee, observing other schools giving students the responsibility of helping other students. We thought; ‘This is an excellent philosophy, and a corps of cadets is a perfect way to put that philosophy into action," Meyer said.

    "We proposed the idea, and the Commandants jumped on it. They even put the rank and privilege of Corporal, to it. This is how we can put leadership and learning together. There are plans to create a similar system for the traditional students as well."

    Shelby Wallace agreed on the program's effectiveness, and connected it to the SSC: "With something like the CAM program, which was created in conjunction with the SSC, we hope to see sophomores coming to us with questions."

    "We'd like to see CAMs coming to the SSC with their questions on where their freshmen can go, who they can see, and what they can do to improve. We can be the guide to a student directly in this office, or indirectly, through cadet and traditional student leadership," Wallace said.

    "Cadre also play a role too. When cadre see their rook is struggling with an issue, they can easily recommend that rook to us for help."

    "The cadre member, as a cadet leader, could also ask us what that rook should do, and help the rook through the problem, whatever it is," Wallace said.

    The center is located in the top floor offices of Plumley Armory. In the future, with the expansion of the center in manpower and physical resources, team members expect to see different accommodations as well.

    "Part of the 2019 plan for Norwich includes new academic facilities. The Student Success Center is mentioned in that plan, and the students who come to us may see new offices in the future," Meyer said.

    Shelby Wallace predicts a bright future for the center: "We've proven how effective this center is. Students have thanked us for the help we offer. For right now, we are running on word of mouth, but in the future, we will be a common name," Wallace said.

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