News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Levin Furniture

Akron General

Northeast Ohio Medical University

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Community colleges peg their hopes on advisers to prevent students from dropping out
But budget cuts and bigger caseloads are hurting the effots

Students seek academic, career, and personal advising as Tri-C begins a new semester.
Courtesy of Michelle Kanu
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Anyone who has struggled to graduate can remember a person who intervened and helped them cross the finish line. For students on the brink of dropping out of community college, academic advisors can be the lifeline that gets them back on track. But many advisers face challenges of their own.

As part of our StateImpact Ohio team’s special focus on dropouts this year, Michelle Kanu has this story about how advisers can make the difference in preventing community college students from leaving school too soon.
Community Colleges target advising to prevent students from dropping out

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:10)

(Click image for larger view.)

It’s the second week of classes this semester at Cuyahoga Community College, and students are shuffling in and out of the counselling office at a steady clip. 

Counselor Suzanne Cox says there’s always a last-minute rush this time of the year.

“It’s hectic. We see a lot of students coming in to make changes to their schedule.”

College can be intimidating
Tri-C is one of the largest two-year colleges in Ohio. More than 60 percent of students attend part-time.  Cox is one of 30 full-time counselors at the school. She says her job is part academic adviser, part teacher, part career adviser, and part personal counselor.

“College is an intimidating place for students, particularly for first generation students or returning students who make up a lot of our community college population,” she says. "Having that connection with someone who cares, who says. 'I’m here for you, I’ll encourage you. If you need me, here’s my card' --  just that simple act of encouraging someone is really, really important.”

Cox says she tries to develop a relationship with each student she advises, but doesn’t always have much time to do so. Students are required to attend orientation and see a counselor when they first enroll, but after that it’s up to them to seek out academic advising when they need it. Some may see an advisor only once during their entire college experience.

Only one-in-five
“The hardest thing about that,” Cox says, "is some of these students will make it to graduation and some of them won’t. I want them all to graduate, and its hard knowing that someone who has so much potential just doesn’t make it there, or doesn’t make it on my timetable.”

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics show only 20 percent of first time, full-time, two-year college students complete an Associate’s Degree within three years. 

Melinda Mechur Karp, a researcher at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center, says community colleges are under pressure to find ways to help more students cross the finish line.

“Advising is a really critical component and it is about figuring out what students need when they need it, and providing it to them in a proactive manner in a way that doesn’t take away their agency, that doesn’t infantilize them, but gives them the tools to move forward when they need them before it’s too late.”

One counselor/441 students
But ensuring all students receive proactive academic advising is a tall order at many schools.

A 2011 survey from the National Academic Advising Association shows advisors at two-year colleges have a median caseload of 441 students each. Add to that budget cuts in recent years that have eroded support services, and Karp says counselors are overwhelmed.

“Counseling centers are under-resourced. That’s the bottom line. They don’t have enough staff and they don’t have enough funds,” Karp says.

That’s why many two-year colleges are experimenting with different ways of advising students, whether it’s online or on campus. 

At Tri-C, school officials say they’re trying to better use the initial student orientation and make sure all students have a plan mapped out. They’re giving faculty more of a role in advising students.

Revamping orientation
And, says Karen Miller, Tri-C’s vice president of enrollment and student affairs, they’re trying to do more to enhance the campus experience. 

“Students make a decision very quickly about whether they’re happy about being here, excited and engaged about being here and are going to stay, or whether they’re not. And that usually happens within the first 3 or 4 weeks of them engaging with the college. And so it is absolutely critical that we create the experience that we know is going to help them be successful right from the beginning.”

To Miller, that means borrowing from four-year universities and focusing on their campus culture. 

This fall, the college will revamp its orientation process, spice up its campus convocation, and roll out a mandatory success course for first time students that emphasizes the importance – and availability – of counselling.
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Backers of legalizing marijuana in Ohio promise to be back in 2016
We should be aloud to grow more than 4 plants and not have to register with the state considering it will be a free market.

Akron says it's had no second thoughts about welcoming refugees
What business does Councilman Neal own on North Hill? I'd love to support him. I am so glad to have the refugees in our neighborhood. I have lived here for 25 ...

Scarborough says the University of Akron is trying to rebuild relationships
In order for the University of Akron to grow and become a desirable place for students across Ohio and elsewhere, it must address the crime problem in the Akron...

Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite wants to end pay-to-play sports fees at Ohio's schools
You can bet Hite and Husted will also rush to the rescue of the Academic Challenge team, the speech-and-debate squad, the Science Olympians and the chess club. ...

Ohio lawmakers consider new gun bills
States that have gun restrictions/cities have reduced gun violence is false. CHICAGO has some of the toughest gun laaws/restrictions but yet fun violence is off...

Cleveland's public transit system considers fare increase for 2016
I work with individuals with disabilities. Yes some of my folks need more help than the average person. As a whole, the group I work with however can manuver ju...

Community group sues to re-open part of Wadsworth hospital
My father was part of the founding group of citizens which started the "new" Wadsworth/Rittman Hospital. For some reason the leadership for the future of the ho...

The Cleveland Museum of Art presents painters who loved their gardens
brilliant masterpiece, Greetings from

Ohio Sen. Tom Patton proposes bill for firefighter cancer benefits
Thank you Senator Patton. On behalf of all of those who love our firefighters; we appreciate that someone is standing up for them and their continued health. ??...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University