Courtney Carter, assistant director of Academic Success.
At the University of Redlands, students in need of a little extra help have a place to go: the Academic Success Center.
“We serve the general undergraduate population,” Courtney Carter, assistant director of academic success, said. “Students can come in, and we meet with them when they need assistance. The number of students we see is going up every year.”
The center, located in the student services office in the lower level of the Armacost Library, offers tutoring and skills classes that teach time management, note taking, goal setting, and how to study. Academic Success works hand-in-hand with Assistant Dean of Academics and Student Life Amy Wilms and Disability Services, which helps students who might need extra time on a test due to dyslexia, or broke their wrist and need assistance with writing notes.
“We help students improve on those skills, especially new students as the transition can be difficult from high school to college,” Carter said. “We have writing and subject tutors, English composition all the way to business and psychology. Tutors help out on an individual appointment basis, and it’s all free.”
Tutors are part of the work-study program, and at minimum must be recommended by faculty and have a 3.0 or above GPA.
“Most of the students go through here,” Carter said. “One out of every five students utilizes our tutors during the year, and it’s close to one out of every four this year. We continue to offer the highest level of support, assistance and motivation to help these students get to where they want to be. That’s what we pride ourselves on, and try to do every day.”
Students are also able to meet individually with staff to make four-year plans, a service that many freshmen and sophomores use; according to Carter, they help create anywhere from 350 to 415 plans each year.
“A four-year plan allows us to figure out what courses students take every semester until graduation,” he said. “There’s the liberal arts foundation, major requirements, minor requirements, and when they are going to do community service and a first-year seminar. Older students also have a May Term requirement. It makes sure that they have enough units to finish up in their four years here, and is a really good visual of academic life. It’s an unofficial document, but the student can take the plan back to their advisor and have a real productive meeting.”
The peer mentoring program is another resource for students looking to accomplish academic and social goals.
“A student might want a 3.5 GPA and to join two clubs,” Carter said. “A peer mentor plans out weekly meetings where they will work on academic success skills to help them accomplish this. If they have a lot of time intensive courses, like science and math, they will help them work on time management. For the two clubs, they will help connect them to the right individuals running the clubs.”
The Academic Success Center does see two sides of the spectrum–while many students come in on their own, others visit because they are on academic warning or probation, meaning their cumulative GPA is below a 2.0 or their semester GPA is below a 1.0.
“We help develop academic plans that will get them back to good academic standing,” Carter said. “We are more hands on with academic probation so students don’t get dismissed. We meet within the first three weeks of school, sign a contract, discuss the things to work on that semester and goals that they have, and we really want to know how we can help them accomplish those goals.”
The student checks in with Academic Success regularly, and completes a mid-semester progress test. They also choose a special program to take part in, like peer mentoring or a workshop on motivation and goal setting.
“They get hands on support to help them accomplish their goals,” Carter said.
Carter understands what it’s like to be a busy student at the University of Redlands; a football player involved in several extracurricular activities, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2006 and later a master’s degree in educational counseling. While earning his master’s, Carter worked in the Community Service Learning office, spending 30 hours a week as a graduate assistant.
“It was a great experience and I learned a lot,” he said. “The other graduate assistant and I ran the volunteer center and worked to get student groups connected with nonprofits.”
After leaving and working at Yucaipa High School for a year, in July 2009 Carter was back at Redlands as program coordinator for the Academic Success Center, before settling into his position today. He appreciates the dedication of all the students he works with–those who are tutors and peer mentors at the Academic Success Center and those who use its services.
“I love seeing students accomplish their goals,” he said. “It makes me proud that I’ve done something to help them get where they want to be. I enjoy having conversations with them, and trying to plan a road to get them there. The tutors and peer mentoring coordinators have a passion for what they do, which is helping other students. We’re molding future leaders of our society. It’s a very rewarding experience, and you can’t ask for much more.”
Posted: Nov. 22, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia