CCA’s Student Success Center focused on college completion

Three CCA student support programs already share common goals.
Now, they also divvy up square footage via June’s opening of the Student Success Center on the first floor of the Student Centre at CentreTech.
The merging of TRiO, First Year Experience and Transitions, and Scholar Support and Programming into one area ended a moving-box methodology that had often shuttled these programs from office to office.
Moving students on through completion, graduation and transfer takes the programs’ singular focus into a single locale and promotes a more coordinated and collaborative approach toward that agenda.
“Moving them to this space is an attempt to really leverage our resources to support students now that we have a little critical mass around some programming opportunities,” said Libby Klingsmith, coordinator of First Year Experience and Transitions.
The three areas earlier this year combined to take students on trips to local four-year institutions. The hope in having them all housed together is that similar intersections of goals can be discussed more readily and leveraged into further opportunities.
TRiO, which is run by director Daniel Sandoval, focuses strictly on first-generation and low-income students. Scholar Support and Programming leans on third-party agencies to provide scholarship funding. First Year Experience and Transitions has a cohort that serves about 60 students focused on transfer opportunities, while also offering student-success courses to all incoming CCA students.
The physical arrangement with the Student Success Center is the latest outward sign of CCA’s commitment towards targeted retention programs that previously included a leadership reorganization that placed Elena Sandoval-Lucero into the role of dean of Student Success.
“I think it sort of models for the campus that we really are about student success and retention, and although each of these programs serves a specific cohort of students, the campus can take what we’ve learned about working with these students and apply those success strategies to other groups of students that they work with,” Sandoval-Lucero said.
About 450 people overall currently are served by the three retention programs.
Bradley Jacobson, coordinator of Scholar Support and Programming, sees all of these students linked by their deep exploration of their lives and futures.
“For me, its giving them an arsenal of college knowledge that they can succeed with, and then understanding that they have the support available whenever they need it,” he explained.
Potential participants are located through word of mouth, campus data, and from referrals by advising, instruction and through the individual retention programs to one another. TRiO gets its students through outreach to targeted classes, advisors and advertising.
Klingsmith pointed out that 50 percent of CCA students are first-generation college students, which automatically puts half the student population in the mix for the more intensive help provided by the Student Success Center. Around 60 percent intend to transfer to a four-year institution, which further expands the pool of available applicants to the Student Success Center.
Sandoval-Lucero noted that while CCA can’t serve everyone in similar fashion, there is the possibility of “expanding our reach” to other cohort-based programs and replicating the model into those other areas in the future.
“There’s tremendous opportunity here as we get off the ground,” Klingsmith added. “In some ways, the 450 students or so that we have are our pilot group and they’re going to run through this more intensive programming around being a more successful college student in an effort to be able to grow that and serve more students.”
The main message is that there is now a place at CCA for students that seek more intensive support within advising; individual mentoring; one-on-one interaction with staff; and opportunities to connect with students with similar goals.
A peer mentoring program between Scholar Support and TRiO already has been an offshoot of the new office arrangement. The three programs have been able to more easily discuss student needs and share forms and best practices around mentoring and advising.
Students that failed to qualify for TRiO could be easily ushered into the First Year and Transitions area, another bonus of the close proximity of the programs.
“I think working together can take them to the next level instead of all working separately,” Sandoval-Lucero said. “And having a Student Success Center, for that staff, sort of indicates to them that the college finds value in focusing on retention, success and completion by having one area dedicated specifically to that goal.”

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