By Adam Gentile & Alexa Wyszkowski
Features Editor, Layout Editor
County College of Morris is developing a Student Success Center, a new resource to help students stay in school and reach graduation as administration is aiming to open it by the start of the spring 2019 semester.
The new Student Success Center will move into the old Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education in Cohen Hall room 203, which is currently under renovation.
Career Services will move out of the club room, where they have temporarily displaced several club offices, and in with the Counseling Center for the start of the spring semester. As a result the Career Services and Counseling Center will be merged as one office together in the downstairs Student Community Center so it is with the all other offices housed in the downstairs and upstairs of the SCC. The other offices include the Office of Student Development and Enrollment Management, Women’s Center, Office of Campus Life, Records and Registration Office, Office of Student Financial Aid, and the Bursar Office.
Dr. Bette Simmons, the vice president of student development and enrollment management, said that the moving of the career services will help consolidate the various student services.
“It’s really all about transporting the Career Services Office into the Student Community Center, and they will merge with the counseling center staff,” Simmons said. “So we have a nice continuum of resources for students all together in the same spot.”
Career Services had to move out of Cohen Hall because they needed more space during the renovation for the new Student Success Center.
“Currently, we are freshening up the area in Cohen Hall that Career Services is vacating, and we are getting it ready for the center,” Simmons said. “In the meantime we are merging the Career center with the Counseling center because there are a lot of similar purposes when it comes to helping students with decisions about their career.”
Simmons said that the clubs being vacated from the club room are doing a great service for the students.
“I see the clubs who had their spaces vacated for a short period of time, as helping the college achieve its goal,” Simmons said. “So they are helping us create this center that will be able to help themselves as well as other students.”
If any club is still having any issues storing any of their supplies, Simmons said they should seek her out so she can assist them in finding proper storage space for their stuff.
The new Student Success Center location is close to where the majority of classes are held. This office will have a new team of five specialists, as two will be full-time Student Success Specialists, one will be a part-time Student Success Specialist, and the other two will be part-time Career and Technical Programs Support Specialists. These specialists will help students reach their goals, guide them in the right direction and help them be able to graduate. This facility will also have study spaces, computers and meeting rooms for students to utilize. In addition to students, faculty and staff members will also be able to use the resources that will be available in the Student Success Center.
CCM’s president Dr. Anthony J. Iacono is looking forward to the creation of this facility, and hopes that it will allow students to gain the necessary skills needed to achieve success in a diverse and competitive job market.
Iacono said that although the Career Services is currently doing a decent job, it is not properly equipped to deal with these ever changing job markets. He hopes that with the creation of the Student Success Center students will be able to leave the school fully equipped with the tools needed to obtain an internship.
“We know that the market place has changed dramatically and the number one thing I hear from employers, whether they are tech industries, engineering industries, health care industries, or any industry is I want kids to come in with their resume and show that they can apply what they learned,” Iacono said. “Whether it’s an internship, an apprenticeship, or any kind of hands on experience we know thats what the employer wants.”
For Iacono, the goal of anyone coming to CCM should be aimed towards graduation, and ensuring that the school can retain students until graduation is one of the most important challenges the administration faces.
“A lot of times we have students who aren’t doing well and want to leave college, it’s not academically related, It can be and we want to have a resource that says we have tutoring, there’s this, and this, and this here are a variety of ways that we can help you,” Iacono said. “If you have work and don’t get out until after the tutoring center is closed, there’s online tutoring”
Iacono mentioned that other issues may be economic related and that there are some on campus that may suffer from food insecurities. CCM partners with local areas in the community and if a student heads to the Student Success Center they can help them get connected to these organizations.
“Most of the time what sidelines a student from coming back to school isn’t academic reasons, it’s life,” Iacono said.” So the Student Success Center can really help us deal with the issues that sideline students, by focusing more on the students.”
Iacono’s future plans for developing the Student Success Center will include plans to help faculty along with students.
“It is designed where it can help students directly, and it will also be able to help faculty directly,” Iacono said. “That’s not in place yet that is for more in the future. Current things that are in place are helping faculty find a student, and if a student brings an issue up to a professor the professor can go to the retention center and ask questions.”
Iacono says that since the Student Success Center is new the new options may be added to it over time to properly develop the center, and to make sure that it’s as helpful as it can be.
“The students are going to have a resource that they have never had before, the faculty is going to have a resource that they have never had before,” Iocona said. “It’s gonna be a learning experience, but the goal is to listen to the students and watch the students and see if we miss anything. A lot of the time you might think of us as on the teaching end but we are on the learning end too, good teachers are good learners.”Student Success Center on track to open in spring
Originally Published in the 12-5-2018 issue of the Youngtown Edition