Often when I first meet parents either on campus or in the community, their first question is, “What do you do for MU?” The reply for me is easy, “I have the best job on campus!” Describing that job is a bit more complicated, because between the wide array of services offered in the Student Success Center (SSC), and the diversity of our work, it is hard to recap in just a sentence or two.
I have used a variety of metaphors over the years to describe what happens in our department, ranging from “triage unit” to “safety net”, and none seem to quite capture the nature or spirit of how we serve students. Each year, we use a new theme to market our services to students, and this year we chose “Discover Your Path to Success”. As I have considered it while inserting pictures of compasses on workshop schedules and hanging trail maps on bulletin boards, I realized we may have found the proper allegory: The SSC is base camp.
We offer provisions. Our academic serves are often exactly what student’s need as they prepare to make their journey on campus. The Tutoring Center provides free tutoring, provided by peer educators who have mastered the trail. Sessions are free, available throughout the week, including nights and weekends and can be easily requested on the portal. Did you know that the Writing Center is open 47 hours a week? Last year, our writing tutors held more than 1600 sessions, instructing students on a wide variety of important writing skills from grammar and punctuation, to using proper citations and developing appropriate supporting evidence. We offer instruction in climbing and hiking technique, too! Our Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) work with students on skills such as note taking, studying, and getting organized.
We are orienteers. Often students use our office as a first-stop when they are not certain where to get help. Students may be referred to our offices because they are struggling academically or are encountering a situation that may prevent them from doing their best in the classroom. The SSC staff works closely and collaboratively with others on campus to help students on their way to the summit. It is not unusual for one of us to sit with a student and call Financial Aid, together, to follow up on questions. We frequently help students get connected to a counselor in the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Center. We direct students to faculty advisors, Residence Life, and the Insalaco Center for Career Development, just to name a few directions we may point to. Like an experienced traveler at base camp, we help others find their way, too.
We offer shelter. Base camp is there for nursing injuries and riding out the storm. We work with students on academic probation and offer support and resources to help them return to good academic standing. From a less figurative perspective, The Office of Students with Disabilities regularly works with students who may find themselves with a temporary disability, whether that be a concussion or a broken finger. (Of course they also work with students who require accommodations permanently, too!)
In life, we all seek trail guides to help us find our way, and the transition to college is no different. Students often discover that teachers and parents, who previously acted as GPS units and provided turn-by-turn directions are no longer able to. Suddenly it is time to navigate using a compass as you blaze your own trail. As you do, don’t forget to stop by base camp, the SSC!
Jessica M. Randall, Director, Student Success Center
Misericordia University provides individualized support and attention to students so that they can thrive in their academic and professional careers. As a result, students have the confidence and the tools they need to be successful.