“The key to success is action, and the essential in action is perseverance.”
Many students never expected to find themselves in college, maybe as high school students there were factors in their lives that left them under prepared for college or perhaps a good paying job came along and the person went straight into the workforce. Maybe a health problem kept them out of school? Perhaps an unstable home life limited the person’s options? Nevertheless, one thing occurred that has altered life and college is now in the future. Chances are that gaps in the skills needed to be successful in college will begin to show up as time progresses and by knowing how to use the resources available, you can help bridge those pesky gaps that can be crucial to your college persistence and success.
Imagine life as a college student. You have signed up for a required class in the program you have selected. The professor of the class requires a graphing calculator along with textbooks for the course. Once class begins, the professor starts the class by having students get out their calculators, but as you look down at the device, you realize you have no idea how to use it. The professor says that you are expected to know how to use the calculator since it is commonly used in high school, so reviewing its use won’t be part of the class. Now, what do you do?:
- What would your first reaction to this situation be?
- How would you solve this problem?
- What resources can you think of to help you?
- What obstacles for college success might you encounter?
- How do you feel about asking for help when you need it?
Colleges have an entire system of free resources in place to support students in a variety of ways. Most students may feel tremendous pressure to succeed on their own due to their independent nature regarding college-related decisions but regardless of that, as a student, it is still the students’ responsibility to educate themselves about all the resources available at the college you have selected to attend. Finding suitable resources can help you feel part of a community that encourages and wants to see you succeed. Many college students initially hesitate to ask for help and in result, they end up in situations that could have been prevented by talking to the right person and being aware of important deadlines. Learning to network is also a valuable lifelong skill to develop while in college.
Many community colleges are concerned about providing students with support services they need to be successful in college. Their concern mostly lies on the fact that many community college students are frequently commuter students who spend less time on campus than students who are in residency thus they are likely to be working and have more family obligations. Almost 30% of community college students are parents, according to 2014 data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (Fact Sheet: 4.8 Million College Students are Raising Children) and unstable child-care arrangements, for example, can impact a student’s persistence in college or their overall performance.
All of these challenges put students at risk of stopping their educational plan due to life events. Community colleges try to develop comprehensive student support systems to help students overcome the obstacles of life and persist in college, however, making students aware of the available support systems and how to gain access to these services is a constant challenge. If not that, then students often struggle to match their problem to the proper support service, they are hesitant to ask for help, and/or wait until the problem is too big to handle. Student persistence and success is the goal for both the students and the college.
- As a student, what kind of support services do you need from a college?
- What is the best method for you to access support services?
- Have you evaluated the support services available at the college you plan to attend?
- How would you rate your social media skills?
For example, Chemeketa offers evening and weekend advising meetings to meet the needs of busy students who cannot make it to college from Mondays to Fridays from 8 am to 5 pm. It is important when looking at your college that you know the days and hours of operation of each student service or how to access those services if you are a student with multiple competing priorities.
15 Key College Resources to know about
- Academic Advising
- Financial Aid & Scholarship Assistance
- Tutoring Options
- The Library & Librarians
- Career & Employment Services
- Student Accessibility Services
- Multi-cultural Center
- Student organizations, clubs and ASC (Student Government)
- Trio, CAMP, CCP, STEPS programs
- Services for Specific Student Groups
- Information Technology Services
- Faculty Office Hours
- College Life
- Veteran’s services/center
- Enrollment Services
- Graduation Services
The language of college can complicate a student’s ability to ask for help and utilize student support services. It can be hard to figure out from the name of a service exactly what kind of help would be provided by that service. For example, what’s the difference between an advisor and a counselor? Don’t they both give advice? If counselors aren’t advisors what are they?
Past experiences may inhibit students from accessing support services. Asking for help can feel embarrassing. In high school, students primarily use tutors when they are not doing well in a subject. Students bring that perspective to college with them. In college, tutors can be a key part of a student success plan. In college settings, free tutors can provide a student with a variety of assistance designed for the student success. Writing and math are typical subjects where students need extra support to learn class materials and complete assignments. Students new to college may not realize that even the top students in their classes are likely to be using tutoring services. Tutors are like assistant teachers. Sometimes it is hard for students new to college to understand the role of tutors and let go of past notions about who uses a tutor and why. Some colleges, such as Chemeketa, may even offer tutoring services online as well as on campus, however, the website of the college you select would be the place to find out more about the offerings related to tutors.
Students with limited time to spend on the college campus may look for tutoring help online via videos to watch. Several excellent websites can be found, there are also a variety of apps for smartphones and tablets designed to help students. Explore your possibilities, support for student success can come in many forms.
Watch the following TED Talk by Sugata Mitra and see the impact the Internet is having on education around the world. As you watch the video, think about yourself as a student/learner and how you could find learning assistance online.
Sugata Mitra: New Experiment In Self-teaching (TED Talk)
Pick 2 different colleges and examine their websites. Try to find the following information on each of the websites.
- Do the 2 colleges you selected have the same definition of advisor and counselor?
- Do both colleges offer the 15 key resources listed above? If not, what couldn’t you find?
- How comfortable were you navigating the college websites to find student services?
- What are 3 student support services you might use and how would they benefit you?
- Did the websites organization make sense to you?
- What was your strategy for finding the information you were looking for?
- What information would you consider most important to you as a student?
- What suggestions do you have for making the website easier to use?
Licenses and Attributions
Student work on this page used with permission. Original chapter work is attributed to Alise Lamoreaux. Chapter editing and additional work on the chapter is attributed to Grecia Garcia and Ashley Duran.