UNC Greensboro’s Division of Student Success is taking big steps to enhance support for undergraduate students on campus. The first of those changes took place this last July, when Dr. Andrew Hamilton took the reins as the new associate vice provost of student success and dean of undergraduate studies at UNCG.

Hamilton’s previous roles as associate dean in the Honors College and later the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and as executive director for academic innovation – all at the University of Houston – have prepared him well for the challenge.

The new AVP will oversee the University’s existing student success operations, including the Student Success Center, the Students First Office, New Student Transitions and First Year Experience, and College Completion Initiatives, while building toward the next steps in supporting students.

When Hamilton is asked what student success means to him personally, his response is enthusiastic.

“Student success is the relationship between student outcomes and what’s actually happening between students and instructors in the classroom – the place where the rubber hits the road.”

Two of the key areas of focus for the Student Success team will be student retention and creating better cohesion and communication between the Student Success division and each academic unit on campus. A near-term goal is to drastically reduce the number of first-year students who struggle academically.

On the retention front, Hamilton notes that a major goal of the division is to better serve non-traditional students. Transfer students, military veterans, older students, students from rural backgrounds or low income families, first generation students, and students who are parents require more flexible and innovative resources for support than traditional students. The Student Success team is charged with figuring out better ways to lower barriers to academic success for these students, while supporting excellence in and out of the classroom.

As for repositioning the division to better serve teachers in the classroom, Hamilton is optimistic.

“We are in the transition from a model where we support instructors from an outside, centralized approach to a new mode of operations where we see ourselves as an embedded resource for the front-line troops who do the work of teaching and learning.”

Another key goal for Hamilton and his team is to make sure students understand that they have been accepted to college in order to embark on a journey to discover their true selves.

“Student success lasts a lifetime,” says Hamilton. “Being admitted to college is not just completing requirements, but is about discovering who you are, what you are good at, and what you really want to do.” 

Steering students toward discovery, exposing them to new ideas and opportunities, and allowing students the room to fail in productive ways are all approaches in which Student Success can support their academic journey.

“When students find their flame, get out of the way,” Hamilton says. “We want to make sure that we’re in the business of setting students up for success in their college careers and then later in life, which includes their personal and professional lives. And we’re trying to plant the seeds of success.”

Another big development is taking place on the student success front. UNCG is one of six UNC institutions to receive Student Success Innovation Lab (SSIL) funding to help students complete their degrees on time. The $200,000, two-year grant will support a pilot study focused on helping UNCG sophomores and juniors who likely have financial need and are not progressing in their intended majors. See the full story.

Following is an overview of the Division of Student Success’ major programs, including the recent reorganization of some of its initiatives:

Academic Achievement Center (AAC)

  • Tutoring for select courses
    Trained, faculty-recommended tutors lead small groups of up to three students during weekly meetings.
  • Academic Skills Support
    Each student’s needs are different, but some common focus areas for the academic skills sessions include time management, test preparation, dealing with test anxiety or procrastination, and being a more efficient and effective learner.
  • Supplemental instruction
    Peer-led review program in which student leaders sit through a class with students and then lead them through several weekly study sessions.

TRiO Student Support Services (SSS)

  • UNCG-McNair Scholars Program
    This is also a federally funded program. It prepares undergraduate students for the pursuit of doctoral degrees. The program is designed for first-generation students from low-income backgrounds, as well as students who are members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in graduate studies.
  • Student Study Program
    Provides opportunities for students to form collaborative study groups, which in turn foster enhanced study habits and overall academic performance, in and out of the classroom.
  • Academic Success Coaching
    A partnership between students and academic coaches that inspires students to strive towards reaching their fullest potential. By providing optimum level support that enhances the first-year student experience, the program makes learning enjoyable and rewarding. This program recently received new fundings. See the full story.
  • The Students First Office (SFO)
    In collaboration with other support services across campus, SFO serves as an academic one-stop-shop for assisting students with academic advising, academic recovery, academic transition, appeals, and graduation planning. Additionally, the office is the centralized academic advising center for all exploratory (undecided) students at UNCG.
  • New Student Transitions & First Year Experience (NST&FYE)
    NST&FYE is committed to providing a comprehensive and collaborative approach to ensure the success and retention of new students. NST&FYE offers a range of programs and resources for new students delivered through orientation programs, transition courses, shared learning experiences, peer support, and student leadership. Drawing from extensive knowledge about the first year experience, NST&FYE educates the campus community about the unique and evolving needs of our new students and their families in order for our community to provide optimum support inside and outside the classroom. NST&FYE programs include SOAR, NAV1GATE, Rawkin’ Welcome Week, and FYE 101. 
  • College Completion Initiatives
    The Division houses several college access and completion programs that support special populations of students as they adjust to college life, choose majors, become excellent students, and then transition to professional life. Completion programs include the Spartan Men’s Initiative, the UNCG Guarantee Program, and the Campamento Hispano Abriendo Nuestro Camino a la Educación (CHANCE) Program.

For more information on the Student Success Center and its programs, visit studentsuccess.uncg.edu.

 

Story and photography by Matthew Bryant, University Communications