The Student Success Center at Ivy Tech Community College is the hub of a network of support services (tutoring, career services, student life and development education, to name a few) that guide students to academic and career success. The Student Success Center is preparing students to become contributing members of the world in which they are a part.

Amber Harnack, director of the Student Success Center, explained that Ivy Tech’s evolution to supporting students from their enrollment at Ivy Tech through graduation and beyond has been a natural one. Ivy Tech as a community college has a responsibility to produce as many graduates as possible to contribute to the economic and cultural development of the community and the state.

To help achieve that goal, the college found it necessary to separate admissions and advising and centralize many support services at the Student Success Center. Lisa Moore, director of Career Services, said her office is one that plays a supportive role by trying to interest students early in the importance of thinking about careers.

The concept of the Student Success Center is called developmental advising. An analogy that can be made to describe the model is that it is similar to a central station where students come to board the train on their journey to a successful life. At present, the Student Success Center represents the boarding platform for all first-time students to the college. These new students are assigned an adviser in the Student Success Center and only are transitioned to a faculty adviser after they have shown preparedness to take college-level classes and have declared a major. Students get individualized attention that includes many advising sessions and referrals to Career Services for assessment tests that can help them pinpoint a career program that is best suited to their abilities and interests.

With the model, students are central. “We want to help students go through our pipeline and make connections all along the way that will make a difference in their lives,” Harnack said. In order to ensure students get the right start, the Student Success Center combines in one place the resources students are going to need to be successful. New enrollees to Ivy Tech get a welcome letter within two weeks that tells them who their adviser is in the Student Success Center and stresses the importance of making appointments. Almost from Day 1, new students are trained to use Campus Connect, the College’s student portal system for electronic messages and other services. An assistant director of Retention tracks students and their classroom attendance, determines what obstacles students face and offers them solutions to those obstacles.

While the Student Success Center only has been open a little more than six months, its numbers are impressive. One day in July, alone, 77 students came to the Student Success Center for help. The total number of current and new students receiving assistance jumped to 1,127 in July from 403 in February.

The personal contact and services don’t end at Ivy Tech’s door. The Student Success Center also helps those transferring to ISU or other four-year institutions. A transfer coordinator for Indiana State University who is housed in the Student Success Center arranges visits to the ISU campus and schedules events between the two schools. The goal is to help Ivy Tech students make a seamless transition to a new educational environment when they choose to continue their post-secondary education.

Harnack believes the central location for new students in the Student Success Center already has brought a sense of ownership and comfort to enrollees, as well as a new-found sense of responsibility. She is enthusiastic about the confidence new students are showing in themselves in this atmosphere of individualized, one-on-one attention. If she has one wish for the future, it is to expand the adviser role even more and better target students potentially at risk for not completing their programs.

Harnack looks forward to seeing her first class of new enrollees to the college transfer from the Student Success Center to faculty advisers this summer. She said her biggest satisfaction in the long term will be to increase retention, persistence and graduation at Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley.

“The Student Success Center will provide students with a base of knowledge needed to begin their educational journey and persist to complete their goals,” she said. That is a win-win situation for Ivy Tech, its future graduates and the communities where they will live.

Submitted by Ivy Tech Community College.

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