Most campuses have a way of identifying at risk students based upon their GPA and/or test scores. The approach for supporting these students can vary from limited support to summer programs to special advising. An approach that some universities use is a special course on academic success skills. The goal of all of these efforts is to prevent students from getting into academic difficulties.
In many respects, the academic success course for at risk students looks like the rescue course discussed in the Topic: “Designing a Rescue Course.” The conditions that make the rescue course work also apply to this course. The one major change in this course is the need for a very strong and assertive mentoring program.
The mentoring program is where the topics from the University Success website can be valuable. Here’s an approach that has been very successful:
- Meet with any student whose grade reports indicate bad grades. This should be on a regular basis (e.g. every two weeks)
- Review the student’s grades at each meeting.
- When a problem exists with a course, ask the student to elaborate on the problem. Probe the situation further until the full extent of the problem is known (similar to what a doctor does in diagnosing an illness)
- Identify topics that might be useful to the student. Ask the student to read these during your meeting. These topics are very quick reads.
- Ask the student to identify specific actions that could help. Ask the student to write these down on paper as a simple commitment.
- Tell the student you want to meet again in 2 weeks to review the progress that was made.
When an academic success course is well designed and executed, the at risk students will typically do better than their classmates who weren’t in the program. .