Thursday, May 24, 2012

Student Success Center

Transitioning from high school to college is huge. Everything changes, and I mean everything. All of your belongings have to fit into one room that you share with someone else; your parents don’t know where you are every second of every day; you are living in a new city; and, suddenly you are responsible for yourself. When I first started college I was somewhat braced for all of these things, but what hit me the hardest was academics and meeting people. I’m not going to lie to you; I wasn’t that great of a student in high school. I thought college wasn’t going to be much different, but I was wrong. It wasn’t until later in my college career that I learned about how many resources the university offers, especially to first-years. The Student Success Center (formerly known as the First-Year Center), is an on-campus resource that I wish I had known about and utilized.

The mission statement given by the Student Success Center is: "The purpose of the Student Success Center is to coordinate an intentionally-designed, comprehensive array of programs, resources, and services that guide students to degree completion at UWM through promoting academic goal-setting, skill development, personal transitions to the university setting, and effective decision-making." They target first-years, transfer students, and adults coming back to school. Basically they cover it all and if they don’t, they will connect you to the people who do.

Basically these students are the know-it-alls of the University and I mean that in the best way possible. I had a friend that was a student mentor last year and he always knew the best things that were happening around campus. He helped me find a place to volunteer and found us $2 tickets to see a show at the planetarium. Needless to say I was pretty disappointed when he graduated this year because I don’t know how I’m going to get the inside scoop anymore. (I know I’m being selfish, but I actually really proud of him too.)

The Student Success Center works with other organizations and offices around campus to make sure that students have the best experience possible. They worked with University Housing to create LLCs (Living Learning Communities). If you live in an LLC, you live with people who have the same interests as you and you take a class together. Boom! Automatic friends. I can say this from personal experience. Having a class in the building you live in is AWESOME! (Check out Zachery’s blog post to learn more about LLCs.) They also worked with PASS (Panther Academic Support Services) to provide tutors in the library for a lot of the basic required classes. I personally used tutoring for English, Math, and Logic. The SSC worked with several professors to put on first-year seminars, which are exclusive classes, intended to help transition you into the college level mindset. The classes are smaller in size and broader in scope, in the sense that they are intended to enhance your skills (inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, oral and written communication) and engage you in reflection about the process of learning at the college level.

My first year it took me a while to get connected, but eventually I found my place. I think it would have been much easier if I had found the SSC. I have been working with them for the past couple of years and I can vouch that they are really nice people who are only focused on helping you out. If I could go back and use the Student Success Center or if they would let me now, I would.
The Student Success Center is located in Bolton 120. You can contact them at or find them on Facebook and Twitter. If you go to the UWM homepage and type in “Student Success Center” into the search bar, it will take you to their homepage.

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