Back See this section in context: Criterion 3 Core Component 3C
3C.4: Programs Support Overcoming Barriers
Community college students often face life challenges such as unemployment, child care needs, or personal crises, which undermine their ability to succeed academically. Sauk’s three counselors are qualified to provide counseling and help to students with personal issues. The Counseling Office also administers two programs that allow the campus community to respond to the needs of students:
- Early Alert System: To allow proactive intervention by notifying counselors of student challenges, an Early Alert System was implemented in the fall 2009 semester. Faculty can discreetly refer a student by completing a web-based form that is automatically sent to a single-point coordinator in Counseling. The coordinator evaluates referrals and forwards them to the appropriate resource: SSS Transportation Committee for a transportation issue; Counseling for a personal issue; Advisors for attendance issues, etc. Resolution of the issue is communicated back through the coordinator to the faculty member(s) who made the referral. The Early Alert System was designed by a subcommittee and created digitally by the IS/IT staff.
- Crisis Assistance Team: The Sauk Valley Crisis Assistance Team (SVCAT), established in 2009, has the primary purpose to confidentially address concerns about the personal wellbeing of students. Composed of counselors, faculty, and professional/technical staff with pertinent professional background, the Team investigates referrals and establishes an intervention plan to assist a person in need. The goal is to address potential crisis issues in their earliest stages so that proper interventions lead to a safe and healthy resolution. Any employee or student may refer someone to the SVCAT. A designated team member will provide immediate crisis intervention as applicable, gather initial information, determine if the situation warrants team involvement, and call an emergency meeting of the team, if appropriate. The SVCAT will determine and implement a plan of action or intervention, determine who outside of the team may have a need to know or to be involved, and provide a written summary of the incident and actions taken. In its first year, 21 personal crisis situations came to the team’s attention, 15 of which were handled on an individual basis and six by the entire team. Both of these initiatives arose out of concern over evidence that students were being lost to both academic and personal barriers. A system was needed for faculty to be able to communicate with counselors in a timely, confidential, efficient manner. Faculty received initial training and subsequent reminders of these processes since then.
Sauk also maintains support programs designed for demographic populations of students with similar types of barriers:
- Student Support Services (SSS) is a federally funded TRIO program for first-generation, low-income, or special-needs students. Students who meet eligibility requirements receive academic counseling from SSS counselors, academic support through student success workshops, laptop and textbook loans, and scholarship incentives. SSS serves 200 Sauk students annually. During FY08, SSS offered 38 workshops which were attended by 480 students. SSS students performed better on average than all Sauk students in the following areas: year-to-year retention, transfer, graduation, good standing, and GPA.
- Student Needs Coordinator is the primary contact for students with qualified disabilities, as defined under section 504 of the ADA, that are seeking services at SVCC. The Coordinator oversees priority registration, classroom accommodations, provides study skills assistance and personal support. Students must self-identify to receive services, but the Coordinator attends IEP meetings at local high schools to encourage higher education programs as appropriate for graduating high school seniors.
- Veterans Services are provided by a dedicated Veterans Service Coordinator, who is a counselor. Traditionally provided by the Counseling Office on an informal basis, the state-mandated program provides veterans and their families assistance with educational benefits, counseling, and readjustment services, among others. In FY10, the program served 92 vets and their families.
- Cross-Cultural Coordinator identifies and supports Sauk’s Hispanic and minority students. The Coordinator, who serves 35 – 40 students each year , makes referrals to support for coursework and family issues, plans events that showcase cultural backgrounds, and provides leadership opportunities. Through the grant-funded Families United for a Strong Education (FUSE) program, which began in 2005, the Coordinator encourages families to set higher educational goals for their children. The Cross-Cultural Coordinator also coordinates international admissions of students with the Admissions Office by serving as Sauk’s international students’ primary designated school official.
A retention initiative undertaken in spring 2010 is a cross-institutional effort to address student barriers to success in learning. The initiative includes two major components:
- Perkins /Retention Coordinator: Funded in part by a Perkins federal grant, this new position includes a charge to “take an integrated approach in retention efforts” and “to create a socially inclusive and supportive academic environment that addresses the social, emotional, and academic needs of students.” The Coordinator chairs the retention committee and provides various support programs and activities. In addition, a grant to create a learning community, which is designed to support underprepared learners, is being implemented as the self-study is concluded.
- Retention Committee: This cross-institutional committee, which was re-established after a multi-year hiatus, collects and examines retention data, develops initiatives to improve retention, and communicates ideas and expectations to the campus community.