New advisement program seeks to boost retention

Alexander Gault-Plate | The Oswegonian
Alexander Gault-Plate | The Oswegonian

Oswego State has launched a mentorship and advisement program focused on improving retention and student success for majors that have previously seen reduced retention rates.

The Oswego Team for Effective Advising and Mentoring helps students in select majors by assigning them an advisement support team that will work with students and various campus departments and individuals to guide the student toward academic achievement.

The O-TEAM is a two-year program this fall for incoming first-year students. The advisers will serve to help the students by collaboratively creating academic plans, providing opportunities for the development of self-advocacy skills and communicating about course selection and registration questions. Academic advisers will also be considering the cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic status of students to recognize the impact of short-term decisions on long-term goals.

“Academic advising plays a big role in student retention. Also, since it is a new program, the advisors and directors will look to the students for feedback; the students have a big part in making sure this program is an effective one,” said Kayle Curtin, one of the professional advisers for the program.

The team will be led by a professional adviser, with faculty mentors, librarians and career services representatives working with them to provide leadership and assistance to the students in the program. Resident assistants and financial aid contacts are also taking part in the O-TEAM program.

The faculty in the program are tasked with introducing students to classes and clubs, as well as disciplines within the departments of each students major. The faculty on each program’s advisement team are also expected to be experts in the subjects they are advising their students on, and to meet with their students at least once a semester for first-year students, and at least yearly for students further along in their degrees.

Mentors can host group meetings with all of their students to introduce students to their programs as a group, as well as hold individual meetings with students to focus on specific concerns of that student.

This model is being introduced to programs at Oswego State that have shown poor retention rates in the past few academic years. These are the communication and social interaction, creative writing, electrical and computer engineering, graphic design, Physics, public justice, art and public relations majors.

“It sounds like a great plan to keep students on track and focused on their studies involving their major. I think incoming freshman are lucky they have this opportunity,” said Ben Decrenza, a public relations major at Oswego State.

“The O-TEAM program is yet another resource SUNY Oswego is implementing on campus in support of student success and improved retention,” said Wayne Westervelt, chief communication officer for Oswego State. “The pilot program was developed to include a more team-based approach to advising where faculty mentors, career coaches, instructional librarians, financial aid contacts, and even residence hall directors will guide students towards information, resources and opportunities.”

The program was developed by Mehran Mojan, who co-chairs the Review of Academic Advisement Committee and Doug Pippin, an Oswego State anthropology professor.

The mentors in the program by program are Christine Hirsch for the communication and social interaction major as well as the public relations major, Donna Steiner for the creative writing major, Cara Thompson for the graphic design program, Shashi Kanbur for the physics major, Jaclyn Schildkraut for the public justice program and Richard Metzgar for the studio art major.

The program is being tested with the seven majors it currently serves, and Curtin said that the goal is to see if the advisement model can be used throughout the campus to aid students in completing their education at Oswego State.