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CSS Helps Students Navigate Unusual Semester

October 29, 2020

Two-thirds of the way through an unprecedented Fall semester at SUNY Orange, students have moved through mid-terms and are churning down the home stretch towards final exams and the completion of an academic term that has seen approximately 85 percent of the College’s student body acquiring academic instruction from a distance.

Every step of the way, the College’s Center for Student Success has provided programs and services to assist students--regardless of whether they are studying remotely or enrolled in some in-person instruction--in navigating a semester they likely never imagined. For years, retention, completion and engagement have been the hallmarks of the work being done in the former Office of Academic Support (rebranded to the CSS this past summer), according to Director Brooke Ellsworth.

“While our name has changed, our core mission remains the same—developing independent learners who are better equipped to persist toward their educational goals. With a renewed focus on ‘student success’ we can continue to enhance our impact on students by providing support that is as flexible and individual as their needs and experiences,” Ellsworth said.

The challenges students are facing in particular this semester have been met with a variety of creative approaches by CSS staff and tutors. The Center has expanded its schedule of available workshops, implemented a live chat feature, established drop-in and one-time sessions for students to meet with tutors, and has promoted the use of NetTutor, a free online tutoring program available around the clock. The Center is also utilizing Twitter (@SUNY_OrangeCSS) to share inspiration, information and resources with students as well.

“We offer online tutoring to all SUNY Orange students in subjects such as English, math, chemistry, biology, and many others,” Ellsworth added. “Our tutors also work with students on study skills, test prep, staying organized, and most important right now, adjusting to online learning.” 

CSS services are available to all SUNY Orange students, and students are encouraged to contact the CSS at any time to learn about how to access immediate resources on course success strategies, to inquire about tutoring, or just ask questions about what services may be available to them.

“Many of our students have shared that they are struggling with feeling overwhelmed by the online content, the technology, and just the remote environment as a whole,” explained Dena Whipple, associate vice president for learning and student success. “Brooke and her team have completely redesigned how help is made available, and expanded their resources to shift the student mindset to success, whether it be a direct connection to a tutor for a specific course, how we assist students in being successful remote learners, how to successfully manage time and study, or just pointing them in the right direction if they simply don't know who to go to.”

The new approaches, evolving over the past four years, are making an impact. In that time frame, the two CSS locations (one on each campus), have experienced a 39 percent increase in the number of individual students served. Data shows that students who work with the CSS regularly have a .26 higher grade point average, and the CSS team continues to empower students to continue making their time at SUNY Orange one of forward-momentum and accomplishment.

For more information, visit the Center’s website , follow CSS on Twitter, email studentsuccess@sunyorange.edu, phone (845) 341-4171 or 341-9504, or use the live chat feature located on the website.

Comments from students who have worked with the Center for Student Success:

  • “I got over my fear of BIG assignments from one subject to another.  I know we’re never alone and you’re always ready to face that challenge together.”
  • “[My tutor is] great and has helped A LOT!  Chemistry is hard…but a little easier because of her.”
  • "Bryan is an amazing tutor...My grade started at a 69 and with tutoring I raised it to an 80, and counting."
  • "Sophia is terrific and very generous because she can help guide me to where I want to be for the future."
  • "Liang is simply the best, I was struggling and now and confident and doing extremely well because of him working with me. He is patient and always, always very helpful."