Program shows students pathway to success

 

Life as a freshmen isn’t easy. Whether it’s in high school or college, you’re at the bottom of the pecking order, and adjusting can be difficult for various reasons.

To help freshmen that are at-risk get on track for graduation, UW-Whitewater has Pathways for Success, a program that creates a nurturing environment for students who struggle with meeting high school grade requirements and the ACT test.

The program will be improved this year thanks to a $500,000 grant UW-Whitewater applied for in the early spring of last year. The grant will allow UW-Whitewater to expand the program, opening it up to more students and obtaining more resources.

Freshmen involved in Pathways for Success receive structure from the coordinated effort of professors, faculty and Campus Tutorial Services.

Kaine

Although the semester is not halfway completed, freshmen participants are already reaping the benefits of the program.

“Pathways makes me push myself,” freshman Casey Kaine said. “I have never been so prepared and scheduled in my life. Now that I participate and pay attention in class, I actually enjoy it.”

The program has a committee of administrators, advisors and members of Multi-Cultural Affairs and Student Success who began setting up the groundwork for Pathways.

“If I wasn’t in this program, I know that I wouldn’t be able to last through college,” freshman John Sprtel said.  “It has helped me organize baseball and school.”

The committee believes advising could play a huge role in student success. All participants receive an adviser that meets with them more regularly than freshmen not in the program.

“It is not enough to just let students come and figure it out for themselves,” Tom Karthausser, an advisor for Pathways, said. “We have to guide them, and we meet with them three times a semester.”

According to Dr. Richard McGregory, assistant vice chancellor of the Multi-Cultural Affairs and Student Success Office, the combined effort of different departments on campus has made a difference not only in the success of students, but in the success of faculty as well.

“The conversations about Pathways have been so enriching, and it has allowed us to critically look at ourselves,” said McGregory.  “The program is geared towards the students, but it has made us better professionals.”

Although the encouragement and money promote success, they do not secure graduation.

“Retention of students in Pathways has improved, but I don’t want to jump too far ahead, because retention does not mean a diploma,” McGregory said.  “We can say that those who have been a part of the program are in good shape heading into their second and third year.”

The program gives the students opportunities, but it is up to the student to take the initiative.

“If you look at students who did not take advantage against the ones who did, our students are doing better,” Karthausser said.

According to Karthausser, the sample size of Pathways is still too small to realistically say if it is a success or not.

An example of the success that Pathways has produced is Lou Minett, who plays defensive end for the football team and is a winner of the 2012 Stagg Bowl MVP.

Minett was a member of the first group of students that Pathways helped guide.

“Teachers and advisors were willing to give me the extra time I needed,” Minett said.  “I knew they were there for my success, not just to do their regular job.”

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