In order for Marshalltown Community College to achieve its target to become known as the college offering the best total experience for its students, an underlying concept is central to our success—student engagement. In brief, student engagement is the notion that in order for students to successfully complete their academic programs leading to transferring to a four-year college or entering the workforce, they must be connected with faculty and staff, other students, the subject matter they are studying, and their total college experience.
Recently we have learned that, according to the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, we exceed our peer institutions in some areas of student engagement, including students participating in community-based projects, receiving support for coping with non-academic responsibilities like work and family, receiving financial support to afford their education, and working closely with an academic advisor. In other areas leading to success, however, we fall a little short compared to our peers: like working with classmates outside of class, being registered for all courses before the first day of classes, being aware of new student orientation opportunities, and participating in a new student seminar.
In order to ensure we engage students, MCC is undergoing an extensive reorganization in how we provide support services for students. This past summer we created a one-stop student success model where a team of Student Success Specialists are tasked with assisting students in all aspects of their college experience. The Success Specialists take students from admissions through financial aid, placement testing, academic and career advising, tutoring and support services, graduation and transferring or career placement, and anything else with which they need help. We believe this one-stop approach will help students quickly feel connected to their college experience and ensure they receive the services they need to be successful.
In addition to one-stop success services, we have also revamped our co-curricular opportunities for students. By hiring a new Director of Residence Life and a Coordinator of Student Engagement, we are focusing on creating an engaging college life for our students’ out-of-classroom experiences. Meaningful opportunities in leadership, community service, policy development, and event planning serve to connect academic learning with experience in project implementation as well as offer ways for students to network and socialize with each other.
In today’s competitive higher education marketplace, MCC needs to offer the products and services for which the savvy student consumers are looking. We feel a student success model ensures that Marshalltown Community College can offer our students the best total experience.
Robin Shaffer Lilienthal is Provost of Marshalltown Community College.