Payton Clark, News Editor
Midterms have come and gone, and students have the opportunity to help or maintain their grades through the services of the Student Success Center.
The Success Center, found on the third floor of the Library, is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and Sundays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The center offers a variety of test prep sessions for many courses, from freshman to senior level, as well as individual mentoring and writing help.
“No matter if they’re sitting on straight a’s right now, or they’re sitting on multiple grades that they may feel anxious about, students can come in and utilize our services,” Director of Student Success Kirt Henderson said.
Henderson says that the center is a place for academic mentoring, rather than tutoring.
“Students can come and work with an individual on their homework, writing assignments or preparing for a test,” Henderson said. “It’s a comfortable, welcoming environment.”
The Success Center has student mentors from each college ready to assist students in a variety of areas.
“We currently have mentors on staff for Writing, Western Civilization, Math, Science, Nursing, Business, Social Sciences, Religion, Foreign Language, Music, and Health and Human Performance,” Student Success Center co-chair Amy Lashar said.
Writing is one of the most important and popular subjects at the Success Center, with staff ready to help at all times.
“Every hour that we’re open we have writing assistants available, so people can come and meet with a mentor,” Henderson said. “They can meet in terms of content as they’re beginning to start a paper, but we also have a lot of people that bring in their papers in finished form for them to be looked over for grammatical mistakes or awkward wording.”
Students don’t have to come in just to study for tests or review papers, but can start in any level of completion for their assignments.
“Whether you’re really struggling or you want a last minute confidence boost in your already top-notch work, whether you don’t know where to start or you’re finished and want a final check, our staff can help at any point along the way,” Lashar said.
As midterm grades approach, Henderson said that the Success Center is reminding students that their services are available to help.
“As we’ve hit midterms we are re-upping our promotion, so we promote a lot early on especially at welcome week, participating in a lot of those activities and blitzing the freshman class to make it a habit freshman year,” Henderson said. “We’re at the point now where freshman can look at their midterm grades, and we recognize that that can bring anxiety so we’re just doing some things over the next few weeks to remind students that we’re here and we want them to utilize our services.”
Henderson said that there is a direct impact on grades for students that come to the Success Center.
“We see that students who come to the center, participate in study sessions, they feel more confident with their work and the content, and that leads to them doing better in their classes,” Henderson said. “I think there is a direct correlation, in terms of their grades.”
An important quality of success is being able to ask for help, which Henderson said is a quality students should have.
“I also think that the more I’ve looked at students and people who are successful, that there’s a lot of value in reaching out for help,” Henderson said. “People that are successful aren’t afraid to come in and get other opinions, especially in their writing. That’s a marker of a successful student, someone that is willing to work with others to grow in their craft, and even in the courses that they just have to take.”
Mentor-student relationships are another benefit Henderson said students can get from the Success Center.
“I think there is value in getting community from the success center as well,” Henderson said. “When you come in and see a mentor, a lot of times you see a friendship and relationship develop that maybe you wouldn’t have outside of the center, and there is value in that too.”
A significant part of Success Center usage is found in A and B students who want to maintain their grades.
“I think there is a misconception that you only come to the center if you’re doing really poorly in your classes or you’re struggling, and that’s just not the case,” Henderson said. “We’ve got a lot of students that are great students already, and want to stay great students and do better in their courses. We just want to break down the misconception that if you come, people are going to judge you because they think you’re doing poorly in your classes.”
Like Henderson, Lashar said that the idea that the center is for “struggling” students is a damaging myth, as the center exists to help students at every level of their academic career.
“Why would you turn in less than your best? Why submit homework or papers that have only been seen by your eyes, when you could have upperclassmen who have been through your classes and know your professors, look at them too,” Lashar said. “Visiting the Success Center grants so much confidence and peace as you walk through your semester.”
The environment found in the Success center is one that Lashar said is just as important as getting help on an assignment.
“Everyone on staff is eager and willing to help anyone who comes in,” Lashar said. “It is a place of calm and friendliness that many students choose to simply come in and study. We have a comfy lounge, individual study rooms, and a staff ready and waiting if you need them.”
It is also important for struggling students to come get help from the Success Center as well.
“But even if you are doing poorly in your classes, our mentors aren’t here to judge, they’re here to help to the best of their ability,” Henderson said. “If someone feels behind, they should come in and work with someone on a personal level and feel like they understand the content a little bit better. It’s just not a scary place, it’s an easy place to come in.”
The Success Center is meant to help students in all areas of academics, and Lashar said its staff is more than ready to do so.
“Any classification, any point in the semester, any assignment, any level of desperation or confidence, we are in the library Sunday from six to ten and Monday through Thursday four to ten ready to tackle your problems with you,” Lashar said.
Another common misconception is that coming to the Center is a nerve wracking process.
“Sure, you’re bringing your writing assignment in and it’s a little bit vulnerable to put that in front of someone and have them tell you what’s wrong with it,” Henderson said. “But that process and pinpointing areas of concern in turn makes you a better writer, which is a really important thing. Not only during your time here at OBU, which is a writing intensive school, but transitioning to the professional world as well.”
The Success Center staff is currently researching the benefits of attending the Success Center and the correlation between attendance and grades.
“That’s not the easiest thing to pinpoint, but one class we’ve looked at thus far this year is a section of nursing chemistry,” Henderson said. “We actually saw that students who came to the center for individual help and attended the first study session that we offered for nursing chemistry actually did on average seven points better than students who didn’t. In early results we were really encouraged to see that, and we’re working on trying to identify that in other classes as well.”
Henderson said that it is not too late to start coming to the Success Center for help.
“If a freshman, or even a junior or senior hasn’t utilized the success center yet, it’s not too late to make that a regular part of their routine,” Henderson said. “Sure students are going to have to come up here for pressing assignments and tests, but I think we see students that come multiple times a week and that regular part of their routine really pays off for them, and not just coming when there is something super pressing.”
Students can expect even more academic assistance as midterms come to a close and finals preparation begins later in the semester.
During midterms we have a lot of study sessions going on for those big tests, as well as extra writing assistants in the center for the papers that are starting to be due,” Lashar said. “As the semester nears its close, we will again schedule extra writing assistants anytime multiple papers are due at once, and verify our coverage of those high traffic subjects. During finals week itself, the center is closed for walk-in help but we have study sessions going on almost constantly for the finals themselves.”