Success coaches lend a hand; Support program helps guide struggling students

Some of the City College success coaching team, including Karin Mack (right), Lee Moua (center) and Zelene Molina. They are part of the SSSP, a program that helps students that are struggling to meet their academic goals. | Bobby Castagna | b.castagna.express@gmail.comSome of the City College success coaching team, including Karin Mack (right), Lee Moua (center) and Zelene Molina. They are part of the SSSP, a program that helps students that are struggling to meet their academic goals. | Bobby Castagna | b.castagna.express@gmail.com

Margo Alexander
Staff Writer
malexander.express@gmail.com

Going to college can be daunting for even the most inspired student. The stress of juggling deadlines, financial concerns and trying to navigate through unfamiliar scholastic waters can take a serious toll on students. It can also inadvertently lead to the dreaded ‘probation.’

Fortunately, there is help to be found — on the ground floor of the Student Services building.

The Student Success and Support Program provides one-on-one Success Coaching to help students get back on track. It starts with signing up for a “Fresh Start” workshop, and then a meeting with a success coach.

This program was originally started two years ago by a team consisting of Karin Mack, Lee Moua, Woubejig Shiferaw and Rachel Bingham, and it continues to gain momentum.

The coaches mainly focus on students who are in college for the first time and those who are at risk, although any student on campus is eligible for their services.

“Coaching is all about helping the student select goals, learning about listening and taking notes,” says Mack, one of the success coaches. “Time management is a big issue. We also give the students other tools, like personal calendars and tip cards.”

The tip cards identify different areas of focus, such as reading, organization, motivation, note-taking and identifying interests.

“Think of us as the bridge,” says Mack. “Something happened, and you are facing a barrier. We try and link you to the help you need.”

The concept of probation and how a student gets on it can be intimidating. Basically, there are two kinds of probation. Academic probation is defined as an overall GPA below a 2.0. Grades that can move GPA below that point include the grades Ds and Fs. Then there is progress probation, which is where overall percentage of dropped classes exceeds 50 percent. Negative grades include “W”, “I” and “NP.” You can also be on both types of probation at the same time.

“Because we are under the SSSP efforts, a lot of what we do focuses on the ‘steps to success’ — in other words, matriculation,” says Mack. In plain English, that means graduation.

“It’s all about building and establishing that relationship with the student,” says success coach Zelene Molina.

As a testament to the positive effects of coaching, Lee says that 68–72 percent of their students increase their GPA.

Bria-Marie Tennyson was one of those students who benefitted greatly from the program. At 32, she was a transfer re-entry student who was on progress probation after dropping out at 25 to take care of a sick family member.

I had the privilege to have coach Karin Mack and Rachel Bingham as my success coach last year,” Tennyson said. “I seriously wouldn’t have gotten through my last year at SCC without their amazing guidance.”

Tennyson, is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in international studies and history at U.C. Berkeley. She plans to go on and get her master’s degree and become a history professor as a way to give back to the community.

“Success coaching is one-on-one detail that puts you on track to graduation,” says Tennyson. “They are really committed to the students on a personal level.”

City College graduate Donnaven Bradley was mentored in the program by Lee Moua, and had a stint as a guest speaker at the SSSP’s Summer Bridge Program.

“It really is important … to have a resource to help overcome and navigate their fears,” says Bradley, who is attending his first semester at U.C. Santa Cruz, majoring in ethnic studies. “It’s definitely been benefitting the students.”

Students interested in the service should research it online, or head on down to Student Services and ask for help.

 

For information and guidance in academic success, visit www.scc.losrios.edu/successcoaching.