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We all play a part in student success.

The first four weeks of each semester provide an experience that can start students on the path to success. All of us – faculty, staff, and students themselves – play an important role in getting each semester off to the best start so that students can continue on with great success!

The research-based ideas below are proven to make a positive difference for students. There are tactics that focus on the start of every semester, and others that can be used all semester long. Choose one or two from each category to implement this semester. Then add more next semester, and the next – right up until graduation!

Student Strategies to Start Strong

Printable Tips

College and Community Resources at a Glance

Connect

Build Relationships and Connect

Connect with faculty, students and staff to develop your Columbus State network. Building your network at Columbus State expands your support system as you make progress toward the academic, career, and financial goals you’ve set for yourself.

  • Learn your instructors’ names.
  • Introduce yourself to your instructors before or after class or using your Columbus State email account.
  • Read the syllabus for each class and put important dates on your calendar/planner.
  • Get to know students in your classes so you have study partners in the future.
  • Ask and answer questions in class. Show your instructor that the class is important to you.
  • Get to know your Academic Advisor and meet with them to plan your path to graduation.
  • Sign up for Cougar Connect at cscc.edu/connect so that you are aware of opportunities to connect with other students and faculty through workshops, leadership programs, student groups, clubs and more.
  • Attend a campus event or performance to be a part of the campus community.

Engage

Engage and Stay Encouraged

Contribute in your classes and invest in your own learning by actively participating in campus events and classroom activities and assignments. Reflect on your achievements and your goals. Remember why you made the decision to invest in yourself. You are creating your future!

Active Learning

  • Show up to class! Don’t miss any classes. Being present is critical to your success.
  • Before class, write down three questions from the materials so you are ready to participate.
  • Respond to questions from the instructor. It may be outside of your comfort zone but the more you do it, the easier it will be.
  • Ask for clarification or examples when you don’t understand a topic. Chances are, if you don’t understand something, other students are struggling with the same thing. Be the one who speaks up (your classmates will thank you!)
  • When reviewing for test, create your own activities to help you work with the materials. Flash cards work for many students, but everyone learns differently. Try different methods and be patient with yourself as you find the techniques that work best for you.
  • Discuss what you are learning with friends, classmates, and family members.

Technology

  • Log into Blackboard (Bb) daily to work on assignments, review deadlines, check for updates and read announcements. Bb is Columbus State’s web-based course information for online and many face-to-face classes and can be accessed at cscc.edu/blackboard
  • Get answers to your questions about technology in the Computer Commons in the TL Building on the Columbus Campus, the Learning Center in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus or by calling 614-287-5050. Watch for technology workshops offered at the start of every semester.
  • Use CougarWeb to check your Financial Aid status, update your address or phone, make payments, and also to find links to common forms and information.
  • Check your student email account every day. You don’t want to miss important last minute emails from your instructors.

 

Aspire

Communicate, Celebrate, and Aspire

Believe in yourself and stay focused on your goals. Your instructors and professors have high expectations of you and you are capable of meeting (or exceeding!) them. Learning is a process and is different for each person. You belong here and will achieve success by inspiring yourself and others to keep moving forward.

  • Stay motivated to accomplish things. Start each day reminding yourself why you are in college and why it is important to you and your family.
  • Everyone has doubts from time to time. If you get discouraged, sit down and write a list of all the good things you know about getting an education. What does it mean to you and your family?
  • Seek out the positive and encouraging people in your classes. Get to know them. The more you hang out with those who are motivated, the more you will motivate one another!
  • Treat each class as a new opportunity! Go prepared and ready to learn. Be excited about the material because that class is going to get you to the next one and closer to your goals.
  • Do a countdown to graduation by marking down the days each semester so you can see your own progress and know that it is getting closer. Know that graduation and future successes are within your grasp.
  • Inspiring others will help you stay motivated. Look around you and see who needs a confidence boost today and reach out to them.

Collaborate

Support and Collaborate

Use campus resources for academic, career, financial, and personal wellness planning, as well as study skills and time management. You are more than a student, you are a busy adult with many things demanding your time and attention. These things can support or hinder your success. On-campus and community partner services are here to help you achieve your goals.

Ask for help

  • Make a list of all the things you need to be successful in college, including personal needs and challenges. More than likely, there is a free service on campus or a community partner agency to help you!
  • Take advantage of all of the free resources available to you. Tutoring, Supplemental Instruction, Disability Services, Career Services and Counseling Services are just a few. Visit cscc.edu/services for a complete list of services available to our students.
  • Don’t wait until there is a problem. Seek help and support often and early to avoid issues before they arise.
  • Get to know librarians and IT support professionals who can help you find or use resources.
  • Explore the Student Success Workshop Series offered every semester. Go to cscc.edu/success for details.
  • Make a personal commitment to attending 2-3 campus events each semester including fitness activities to stay physically well. Physical wellness is an important aspect of staying mentally and emotionally well, so make sure you’re caring for your whole self!

 

 

Faculty Strategies to Start Students Off Strong

Printable Tips

College and Community Resources at a Glance

The first four weeks of each semester provide an experience that can set students up for success. Even seemingly small gestures can make an important impact on a student. You are a critical part of helping them get off to a great start.

Based on the St. Louis Community College model, named as an Achieving the Dream Best Practice, the research-based ideas below are proven to make a difference in student success during the first four weeks of the semester and beyond.

Directions:

  1. Select at least one strategy from each category to carry out in your classes.
  2. Email cougarsuccess@cscc.edu and ask to be added to the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization.
  3. Be sure to assess the impact of the strategies you have implemented.
  4. Provide tips based on your experience to other faculty through the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization.

Connect

Build Relationships and Connect

Create a sense of community and belonging for all students.

  • Personalize your BlackBoard course materials so your personality comes through—Digital Education and Instructional Support (DEIS) can help you. (Email teaching@cscc.edu or call 614-287-5991.)
  • In the first class, ask students to introduce themselves and share why they are in the course or something else about themselves. Consider posting this as an early assignment using the Discussion Board in BlackBoard.
  • Start class by taking attendance. This helps connect student names and faces (and reinforces the expectation of students coming to class, which is a critical factor in success!).
  • Strive to learn students’ names in your first class. Making a seating chart with notes about each student and reviewing it several times can help. Make a point to use their names in subsequent classes.
  • Share something about yourself and your passion for your discipline and the course content.
  • Encourage students to tell you about specific concerns they have. You could do this by creating an assignment or including a syllabus statement that lets students know you are interested in them and able to connect them to additional resources.

Engage

Engage and Stay Encouraged

Promote active learning and build technology skills.

Active Learning

  • Communicate the “why” behind assignments to help students connect with the big picture for the course.
  • Perform at least one Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) every week, such as minute paper or muddiest point. (See the First4Weeks BlackBoard Organization for tips.)
  • Engage students in at least one active learning strategy every week. Ideas include link-pair-share, QR code creation, clickers, jigsaws, magic moment or service learning. (See the First4Weeks BlackBoard Organization for tips.)
  • Consider a syllabus quiz, small group discussion, polleverywhere.com, or other activities to engage students.

Technology

  • Take note when students are not accessing BlackBoard regularly. Email them to make sure they are comfortable with the technology, and ask if you can be of assistance.
  • Always demonstrate any new technology or skill that will be used in the class as part of an assignment.
  • Upload/add Blackboard’s “how-to” YouTube videos to your course, and make students aware of open computer labs in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus and the Center for Technology and Learning (TL) on the Columbus Campus, where technology help is available. They can also contact the help desk at (614) 287-5050.
  • Create an early assignment that asks students to log into BlackBoard, as well as update their contact information on CougarWeb.
  • Let students know the importance of having up-to-date email, phone, and address information on file. (Remind them that you can’t help them if you can’t reach them!)
  • Acquaint students with the IT Support Center at (614) 287-5050, and open computer labs in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus and Center for Technology and Learning (TL) on the Columbus Campus, where they can get in-person technical assistance.

 

Aspire

Communicate, Celebrate, and Aspire

Inspire students with your high expectations and belief that they can meet them.

  • Keep the mindset that your goal is to help students learn, and that assessments, assignments and exams are tools to help you do that.
  • Always incorporate positive feedback on graded materials, beyond check marks, deductions, and final score.
  • Create rubrics that clearly define grading criteria for each assignment and provide these to your students when giving the assignment.
  • Early feedback is important, so strive to return graded papers quickly, especially in the early weeks.
  • Discuss what students need to do to be successful in YOUR course. Let students know that you have high expectations—and that you believe in their ability to meet them.
  • In the first week, have students complete a short in-class writing assignment or class quiz worth very few (or no) points. Grade and return this assignment the next class, including helpful suggestions as to how to improve performance.
  • Celebrate the good stuff and share inspiring stories! Focus on progress. Congratulate students who make significant progress in their work.
  • Share your path to higher education to inspire them. It is important that students know you struggled, too.
  • Build opportunities for students to reflect on their learning. For example, ask students, “What were your biggest challenges with this assignment?”

Collaborate

Support and Collaborate

The best instructors know there can be outside factors creating barriers to student success.

  • Collaborate with student support services and provide students with information and referrals to support them in their academic, career, and financial goals.
  • Build your knowledge of campus resources to support student success. Use the resource sheets, the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization, and the website to direct students to programs, workshops, and other resources.
  • Integrate learning about campus resources into class assignments, for example:
    • Create an exercise that includes having students use tutoring services, NetTutor, or the Writing Center.
    • Create an exercise that connects students to Student Engagement and Leadership, Counseling Services, Career Services, the Library, etc.
  • Customize a resource announcement for your course in BlackBoard that links students to campus resources. (Resource links can be found at cscc.edu/services.)

 

Staff Strategies to Start Students Off Strong

Printable Tips

College and Community Resources at a Glance

The first four weeks of each semester provide an experience that can set students up for success. Even seemingly small gestures can make an important impact on a student. You are a critical part of helping them get off to a great start.

Based on the St. Louis Community College model, named as an Achieving the Dream Best Practice, the research-based ideas below are proven to make a difference in student success during the first four weeks of the semester and beyond.

Suggestions:

  1. Select at least one strategy from each category to carry out in your department/office.
  2. Email cougarsuccess@cscc.edu and ask to be added to the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization.
  3. Be sure to assess the impact of the strategies you have implemented.
  4. Provide tips based on your experience to other staff through the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization.

Connect

Build Relationships and Connect

Create a sense of community and belonging for all students.

  • Create a welcoming environment through simple steps, such as posting a picture board with staff photos and names.
  • Make each conversation friendlier:
    • Be sure to address each student by name before asking for their ID number
    • Introduce yourself to the student you’re helping, with your name and title
    • Ask students questions about themselves and how they are doing
    • Decode higher education terminology during conversations by defining terms that may be new to students
    • End conversations with motivating words of encouragement
  • Listen actively. It’s easy to jump to a solution after hearing part of what someone is saying instead of listening to the entire question or situation.
  • Ask the second question. New students may not know enough about Columbus State to understand what they need or who they need to talk to. Help them out by asking a follow-up question to figure out what they need to accomplish.
  • When you refer a student to another office, call ahead to make sure someone is there and understands what the student needs. Walk the student to the other office, if possible.
  • Verify contact information on file and explain the importance of current mailing and phone information. Help students complete updates, either on CougarWeb or by calling (614) 287-5353.
  • Make sure students know how to reach you. Share your business card—writing a quick note on the back is a great way to make a personal connection (something as simple as “Glad you’re here!” or “You’re going to do great!”).
  • Email students who miss appointments, and send email follow-ups after appointments.

Engage

Engage and Stay Encouraged

Communicate the “why” to help students connect tasks to the big picture.

  • Listen, and let a student talk through a problem. Help them talk their way through to the solution that is best for them.
  • When you give a student an answer, explain the process involved so that the student knows what to do the next time they encounter a similar situation. If a student asks a question that requires an answer of “No,” don’t stop there. Explain why and help them explore other ways to achieve their goal.
  • When possible, let the student look up information and navigate the website while working with you, to help them build skills and a comfort level with the technology.
  • Ask students to repeat important information back to you in their own words so you’re sure they understand.
  • Remind students that we send messages only to their Columbus State email account, and remind them to check it daily.
  • Acquaint students with the IT Support Center at (614) 287-5050, and open computer labs in Moeller Hall on the Delaware Campus and Center for Technology and Learning (TL) on the Columbus Campus, where they can get in-person technical assistance.
  • Show students where they can find dates and deadlines related to college services.
  • Remind students to sign up for RAVE alerts at cscc.edu/rave.

 

Aspire

Communicate, Celebrate, and Aspire

Remind students often of that they are valued and have the ability to achieve their goals. Remind them that acclimating to any new experience is a learning process.

  • Help student workers understand their important role and how to better help other students.
  • Encourage participation in campus groups that build leadership skills, like Women’s Connection, MAN Initiative, and discipline-specific mentoring programs.
  • Praise students for things they have accomplished. Each step forward takes them closer to their goal.
  • Incorporate inspiring messages into daily interactions. Add inspiring messages to your office space. End conversations with encouraging words like “You’ve got this” or “You’re going to do well here.”
  • Help students develop skills to have appropriate conversations about difficult topics—role play, or discuss how conversations may go, what kinds of responses to avoid, and how to have a productive discussion.
  • Encourage students to talk to professors in person. Remind them that getting to know professors on a personal level helps the learning process. Our professors are here to help students succeed!

Collaborate

Support and Collaborate

Provide information and referrals. Integrate learning about services to support your students in their academic, career, and financial goals.

  • Build your knowledge of campus resources to support student success. Use the resource sheets, the First4Weeks Blackboard Organization, and the Columbus State website to direct students to programs, workshops, and other resources.
  • When you are able to, walk students to a service you have referred them to so they get there easily and will know where to go in the future.
  • Remember, students have many things going on outside of college, so there may be barriers to their success that we aren’t aware of. Pay attention to “red flag” statements so you can help them identify and solve problems.
  • Students may be very stressed about their situations. Be calm under pressure. Be the rational one and de-escalate a situation that may be stressful for a student.
  • If you can’t assist a student and need to send them “up the chain of command,” take time to help them understand why they need to follow the proper channels and help them understand how our process works.

 

Achieving the Dream

 

 

First 4 Weeks