Did you know? Approximately 70% of community college students report knowing about their college’s academic support services. But 65% report never using them (CCSSE).
Yikes! That’s crazy! Especially given the fact that studies show that students who use campus resources self-report the positive effects of utilizing those resources! They get more out of the college experience and are more likely to successfully reach their educational goals.
So what’s the disconnect? We’ve done our part as the metaphorical health club, right? We provided them with the tools for success and even made sure they’re aware of them, but still, the vast majority say they don’t make use of those resources!
I guess we could just throw up our hands and declare ourselves done! But as I mentioned yesterday, as employees at the college, we sort of take on the role of the personal trainer. We not only have to let students know these resources exist, but we also have to show them how to use them and the value of using them. Otherwise, even if they know about them, they won’t use them to their benefit (sort of like how I heard those giant bouncy balls were good for exercise, but one never did anything for me until my trainer showed me what to do with it—then I felt the pain!)
In our Freshman Seminar classes, we do this by actually forcing students to engage with staff who work at the Tutoring Center, the Financial Aid office, the Library, Student Life & Counseling Services, and so. We take them on location and our staff offer them workshops during class time. We connect assignments to these workshops. And it seems to work. Our Career Services personnel, for example, report that after we bring our classes to their center and introduce them to the people and services, they almost always see those students again. Obviously, taking them to Career Services encourages them to use that resource later—even when it’s not required. The same holds true for the other resources to which we introduce them in our class.
Here’s a little secret about our students (in case you didn’t know): they don’t do optional. If you want them to appreciate the value of campus resources, you can’t just tell them they’re valuable—you have to show them. When we take them as part of the class, it isn’t optional. And our students who take the Freshman Seminar class have reported via CCSSE that they use campus resources at a MUCH higher rate than the regular population.
But not all of our students take the Freshman Seminar class. So the next question is how do we go beyond awareness? How do we get students to embrace and utilize campus resources without a class as a vehicle for doing so?