In the Yuba-Sutter area, many currently enrolled college students are the first in their families to receive any sort of higher education. Yuba and Sutter counties have a large percentage of older students coming back to school, or even enrolling for their first time. Because of these factors, many students are coming to college without any knowledge of the college world. They aren’t equipped with the basic understanding of classroom structure.
Luckily for students new and old to the college game, there is group of faculty members on campus who work to help students succeed: The Basic Skills Initiative (BSI) team. Co-chaired by Dean David Farrell and Professor Gretchen Cupp, they have already helped to improve the Hard Math Café, and just this semester they have helped to bring us the Writing Center in room 1251A (formerly “Art in Exile”).
Efforts from other schools, such as Sierra College, show that administrations are aware of how difficult it is to be a first generation college student and are thus making an effort to reach out to new students. At Yuba, however, there have been no real programs available besides the basic optional orientation or such things as instructional and informative pamphlets and posters.
These minimal efforts leave many students struggling to achieve the best experience from their college education. Older students may still feel lost despite these attempts, since they are generally aimed at providing a better transition for students coming straight out of high school.
But students also need to be aware of appropriate classroom behaviors and effective study techniques, for example. The BSI believes that the best way to help students – all college students – is to understand the needs of the student in the classroom atmosphere. To do that, the students have to have their opinions heard and recognized by the administration. It’s not enough to provide pamphlets on how to transition from high school to college.
There needs to be a cooperative effort on the part of the school, the teacher and the student to provide a “successful learning atmosphere.” The BSI will be holding a forum with the Associated Students of Yuba College, our student government, to decide what kinds of needs should be addressed.
They are also looking for input from regular, everyday college students as to what helps to provide a positive learning environment.
English Professor Sally Harvey, a member of the BSI, said that in order to reach out to the students and include their ideas, the approach should be a positive one, which means excluding all ideas of “Don’t, don’t, don’t.”
Not only are they looking for things that students can do to better their experience, but what their teachers can change in the classroom.
With all the information the BSI team gathers, they will make sure some good changes come out of it. Positivity is the goal in this experiment.