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New Center to Act as Academic Compass

Published: October 07, 2013
The Academic Success Center streamlines the process that promotes students’ achievement and success.
The Academic Success Center streamlines the process that promotes students’ achievement and success.
Many college students have trouble answering the question, ”What is your major?” It’s a big decision that might set the path for the rest of their lives.

At UT, the new Academic Success Center helps students identify their strengths and then, through the Academic Center for Excellence, create a step-by-step curriculum of ways to unveil the answer.

“We’re using the Strengths-Based Initiative to focus on the self-identity component of college,” said Lorie Kittendorf, director of Student Success, of the 180-question assessment. “It gives the students the tool and the way to identify their strengths with a common language.”

This program is just one example of the benefits of the newly formed Academic Success Center, a merger of three critical student support offices — Academic Advising, the Academic Center for Excellence and Student Success — that all work to streamline the process that promotes students' achievement and success.

“Once students are here, we can help them to understand what academic services are available and how to find a resolution, whether it’s a need for academic support services or just information about policies and procedures,” said Michael Ranahan, director of academic advising. “Students are more likely to find the support that will help them if they are not sent across campus to find a service or to file a form.”

In years past, students would have to go to three different buildings to access the services offered by these offices. Over the summer, the three offices were brought under one roof in the newly renovated North Walker Hall to make it easier for students to get the academic help they need.

The list of services offered is extensive, from academic advising, coaching and exploration, to tutoring and help with test anxiety, motivation, procrastination, note taking and time management. The office is also home to the Helios Scholars program, STEP UP program and Student Disability Services.

Janice Law, who is the director of the Academic Center for Excellence within the center, said if the Academic Success Center can’t provide the service the student requires, staff will point them to the department and, often, a specific person they can go to for answers.

“In many cases, we will be able to make the phone call for the student in order find out answers to simple questions,” said Law. “As we say, ‘if we cannot answer your questions, we know who can.’”

An open house of the new center is planned for Oct. 10 at 11 a.m.

“We’re excited about the possibility of it all,” Kittendorf said. “We’re hoping to make an impact on students’ persistence and engagement on campus.”