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January 22, 2013

Starting strong at Southwestern Michigan College – Innovative class helps first-year, undecided students be successful in college

DOWAGIAC – The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees heard a presentation on a new course designed to help freshman succeed, reviewed the renovation progress of the college’s new bookstore, and elected officers for the 2013 school year during the board’s regular Monday evening meeting on the Dowagiac campus.

The Education 120 class was created to provide freshman and students who have declared undecided majors valuable direction in developing career and academic goals. The two-credit course is required for all new students with undecided or liberal arts majors.

“We know that freshman students who lack clear academic and career goals are at the greatest risk of dropping out of college,” said Dr. Diane Chaddock, executive vice president and chief operating officer at SMC. Dr. Chaddock presented an overview of the course to the board at Monday’s meeting. “By not having clear educational goals, students are not taking ownership of their academic future and they are racking up huge financial debt that is not reasonably paid off in their chosen career.”

A cross divisional team of SMC faculty and staff worked together over a period of nine months to develop a plan to address the challenges many college freshmen face.

A cadre of seven faculty members and eight academic advisors piloted 14 sections of the new course this past semester.

“Students in the course did their own career research, developed a personal academic plan, and created a personal financial strategy to pay for college,” she said.

The class had 205 students enrolled last fall when it was initially piloted and feedback from students and instructors noted the benefits of offering the course, which meets SMC degree requirements and is transferable to a four-year degree program.

“Overall student comments were positive,” Dr. Chaddock explained. “We will continue to develop and tweak the course so that our students will have the right tools to make informed decisions about their educational future.”

In the president’s report, Dr. David Mathews reported renovation of the space formerly occupied by the college museum into a new college bookstore is on time and on budget for a grand opening at 10 .m. March 11. The space, which also will be rededicated at that time, will feature a new community meeting room, an Alumni Welcome Center, and college history gallery.

The bookstore will move into the new space within a few weeks and immediately following the bookstore relocation, renovation work will begin in the former bookstore space to create a new one-stop Student Service Center for students. The new Student Service Center location will be open this summer.

Source:  News release from Southwestern Michigan College


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