Government money, as many students applying for FAFSA support discover, comes in limited quantities. This extends not only to scholarships but to the collegiate programs funded by the federal government, like TRIO. At Knox, that cost comes with over 350 TRIO-eligible students not admitted to the program — that’s where the new Student Success program comes in.
The TRIO program is aimed at low-income and first-generation students. Likewise, the Student Success program supports first-generation and Pell Grant students, but differs from TRIO in that the funds are not supplied by the federal government.
“Knox College applied for and was awarded a rather large and healthy Mellon Grant,” Student Success Coordinator Laura Bush said. The grant will go toward a number of things, including the creation of a new Student Success Coordinator position in the Center of Teaching and Learning (CTL) that Bush now holds, along with helping to run the CTL and TRIO.
Bush’s job is to reach out to the large body of students that are TRIO eligible but did not get in for one reason or another. This reason is usually the fact that there isn’t enough space in TRIO to take everyone, as TRIO can only take on roughly 190 students each year and support them academically for five years.
The Student Success program cannot cover the students financially, but it can offer them opportunities to take programming, tutoring and group help, as well as have Bush as an additional advisor on the side.
Some resources previously available only to TRIO students are now open to the campus, such as for-credit classes offered to improve their academic skills or help with transitioning from high school to college. The program also involves promoting under-utilized resources, such as Red Room tutoring in the libraries or Writer’s Workshop tutoring in the CTL.
Other plans going forward include instituting a student advisory council, creating a mentorship program for underclassmen, assisting sophomores with their education plan and helping seniors prepare for life post-graduation.
In order to create and improve this program, a lot of student feedback is needed. Juniors Stephanie Cordero and Liz Rivera are two of the students participating in the Student Success program and heading the effort of running the student advisory council for the program. When they approached Bush about how they wanted to study abroad and do internships, Bush immediately jumped at the chance to help with resources and applications.
The pair tabled for the program and, with feedback, saw evidence that while students cannot get direct financial help from the Student Success program, they still need help finding and applying for financial aid. “Registering to vote, applying to live off-campus, signing their first lease” and adapting to college in general were also cited as needs, according to Cordero and Rivera. As first-generation students, many of the program’s eligible students do not have their parents’ experiences to help them.
At this time, Bush is still seeking feedback on how to tailor the program to suit student needs before moving forward.