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Individual Attention, Innovative Academics Contribute to Student Success

March 20, 2006

Individual Attention, Innovative Academics Contribute to Student Success

Once students arrive at UC Merced, faculty and staff seize the challenge of helping them succeed. As a small, new campus, UC Merced is uniquely suited to help students create good habits and rise to their opportunities.

Tutoring and advising services play a significant role. Student Success Workshops offered mid-semester have helped hundreds of students identify what obstacles were holding them back from performing up to their level of ability and find concrete remedies for those problems, from time-management help to financial aid.

UC Merced was the envy of the room when I shared this program at a national conference on learning assistance in college, said Elizabeth Boretz, director of the Student Advising and Learning Center. The faculty was extremely helpful, providing mid-semester grades so we could identify students who needed help. Boretz said UC Merced’s small size was the main factor in helping the program work.

Another way of moving less-prepared students toward success is through preparatory courses aimed at helping them catch up if their high school experience did not prepare them adequately for their UC academic efforts. Professor Arnold Kim is working on a crucial preparatory course in math.

There are several goals for this course, he says. The most obvious one is to give students a learning experience that prepares them well to succeed in our calculus courses. This goal is critical for students who wish to pursue the majority of the majors at UC Merced across all three schools.

Students have to be able to handle calculus in order to proceed in chemistry, statistics and other foundational courses. But catching up is not an engaging goal for students, Kim knows.

We are trying to make this course interesting and engaging by itself, he explains. We need to do a lot more than telling students they need to get through this course to get to the next one. This course is our opportunity to get many of our students engaged in analytical thinking and quantitative reasoning.

Through the work of Boretz, Kim and other dedicated UC Merced personnel, bright students who deserve every chance at success are finding opportunities they need and a place where they belong at UC Merced.