AUGUST 4, 2015
Grant helps ACTC Students Succeed
Thanks to a new $1.42 million grant from the US Department of Education, the Student Support Services (SSS) Program at Ashland Community and Technical College will be able to continue to help students succeed in college. The grant of $284,754 a year for the next five years will provide services to 175 students annually.
“For many new students, college is a foreign land filled with unfamiliar policies and procedures, course work challenges and financial constraints,” said Megan Horne, SSS Director. “Our program offers students an even playing field to begin their college experience. We help them navigate their way through college and onto graduation and employment.”
Student Support Services is a federally funded TRIO grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The program serves at-risk students who have barriers to attaining a college education such as low income, disabilities or being a first generation college student.
“We provide opportunities such as tutoring, mentoring, academic workshops, transfer visits and career trips, as well as academic, personal and career guidance,” said Horne.
In SSS, students learn the importance of an education and the difference it can make in their lives. They learn to set career goals, manage their time and money, and feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. The program helps them to see that they can succeed.
“When you get into SSS, you find out that ‘giving up’ is not in the vocabulary,” said Frank Donnelly, an ACTC graduate now working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. “I received tutoring and then became a tutor so that I could help other students get the same satisfaction from getting a good grade in a hard course. Succeeding at something hard increases your confidence tremendously.”
Donnelly graduated from Ceredo-Kenova High School in 1992 and came back to college to prepare for a better career. “My professors and the SSS staff taught me, encouraged me and empowered me to continue to reach my goals,” he said.
“Our success rate is measured in terms of student grades, retention from one year to the next, graduation and university transfer,” said Horne. Over 90% of our students achieve a Grade Point Average of 2.0 or higher, over 80% continue from year to year, 51% graduate and 27% transfer to a university to work on a bachelor’s degree. These rates are much higher than those achieved by the general college population.
Tutoring and mentoring by fellow students are important elements of SSS, but the most important element is often the personal touch. Each student is assigned an advisor who is available to talk about any question or problem throughout the year.
“We really get to know the students personally and they get to know us,” Horne said. “This comfort level adds greatly to the student’s success and self-esteem.”
“SSS pushes you to do more than you thought possible,” said Brittany Hall, a May 2015 ACTC graduate now taking classes at Morehead State University.
“I was just planning on getting an Associate in Arts Degree and going to work, but my advisor told me about transfer scholarships to help pay university tuition for a bachelor’s degree. Now I’m working on a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.”
“In order to qualify for a scholarship, I needed a 3.5 GPA,” Hall said. “Like many students I struggled with College Algebra and failed it the first time I took the course. SSS offered tutoring, which I took every day after class, and I ended up with an “A” in the course.”
“I would absolutely recommend SSS to others because this program helps students from start to finish,” said Hall. A Louisa resident and 2011 Lawrence County High School graduate, she will be helping other students this fall as a SAGE (Student Advisor Giving Expertise).
Beginning this fall, all new SSS students will be assigned to a SAGE who will help them transition into college, answer their questions, and provide them with encouragement. These students will also be expected to complete an introductory course called “College Knowledge” to help arm them with important information in their first semester.
The SAGE students will add a new layer of support to the other services provided by SSS.They will be able to answer questions from a student point of view, supplementing the academic advising that gives guidance on credits, courses, and career plans.
Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, SSS will offer up to 11 college credits at no cost to participants for a variety of course topics including introduction to college, transfer planning, career planning, financial literacy and development of leadership. This new option for participants is supported by ACTC.
Advisors provide academic help to students in planning their degree programs and selecting courses. The advisors can answer questions about degree requirements and guide students through the process of selecting majors and setting career goals.
Intensive tutoring is offered for academic courses and study strategies, with most tutoring focusing on math, science, and basic computers.
A variety of workshops are offered each semester on topics such as basic computer instruction, resume and interview skills, and health program applications. Participants also have the opportunity to visit area universities and businesses to help with transfer and career planning.
SSS Advisors can further help students with career interest assessments, resume and cover letters, equipment loans and copier service. Advisors can also refer students to local agencies for help with personal issues.
A Student Focus
SSS serves students of all ages and stages of college experience, from taking first step in the door to transferring after graduation.
Christy Lumpkins, a May graduate now pursuing a social work degree at Morehead State University, is well aware of all the ages and stages of SSS. She came to ACTC to earn a degree “that I can be proud of” and the SSS advising and mentoring helped her earn that degree.
She has been a Peer Mentor and Supplemental Instruction leader, and she will be a SAGE this fall. “I benefitted from the support, tutoring and mentoring I received, and I can give back to other students now,” she said.
“SSS is like a family, and we learn that success is possible. All the support you receive is a life-changing experience that gives you the courage to continue. We learn skills, tools and resources that we will take on to work and use for life.”
Christy’s family, all from Louisa, shares her appreciation for SSS support.
Her daughter Alicia Willis recommends SSS to other students because it was part of her success in earning an Associate in Arts degree. She graduated with her mother last May and is transferring to Eastern Kentucky University for a double major in psychology and occupational therapy. “The SSS staff was excellent,” she said. “They were there to help whenever I ran into any problems.”
Christy’s husband James graduated from ACTC in 2014 with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Industrial Maintenance. “SSS gives you the foundation you need to be successful in school and life,” he said.
“Because of SSS tutoring, I received the Math Award at age 43, which was one of my best experiences at the college,” James said. He then served as a math tutor to pass that help along to other students. He is now a Maintenance Technician and Robotics Specialist and is planning to continue on for a bachelor’s degree.
Many ACTC students meet guidelines for the SSS Program as first generation college students, income eligible students, or physically, mentally and/or leaning disabled students.
Students learn about SSS through contact with other students, orientations, visits to classrooms, and referrals from faculty and staff. “We take applications, invite selected students for interviews, and then follow that up with an intake session where we do an academic plan,” Horne said.
For more information on Student Support Services, contact Horne at (606)326-2074 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.