The transition from high school to college is never easy, but with the help of Keene State College’s Casey Justice and Matt Schmidt, that transition gets a little easier.
Casey Justice is the Director of Transition and Parent Programs at KSC.
The office of Transition and Parent Programs was created in July of 2016. Justice said the program targets “everything from when a student first inquires about attending Keene State, all the way to graduation.”
A big focus of the program is first year orientation. The orientation in June “is the time to help students socialize with other students that they will live with and be around from their class, select courses and work with Academic and Career Advising,” said Justice.
Eric Walsh is a senior at KSC and an orientation leader. “I think [orientation] gets [students] more familiar with the resources that are on-campus and helps them make a couple friends…Knowing a few people can make the difference between leaving and staying,” said Walsh.
During the June orientation, students fill out a survey about fears they have with coming to school. Justice said the most common fears are “time management, requesting tutors, financial implications of attending, roommates, social[izing], anxiety, homesickness and academic performance.”
Later on, “We then outreach to all of the students based on their survey results, and help direct them towards other support student services,” said Justice.
Walsh said when he saw a student having a tough time, he would, “Talk to them as a friend, just in a non-subtle way to understand. We can really relate well. We were all students.”
Matt Schmidt is a Transition Case Manager at KSC and works alongside Justice to help students transition.
Schmidt said that his main goal is helping students embrace self-advocacy and take advantage of the resources around them.
When a student is facing an issue, Schmidt said, “I let them know I’m there for them and assess the degree of the concern.”
If the situation is urgent or emergent, Schmidt will personally walk the student to an office where they can get immediate help. “I’m not a clinical psychologist, but I will direct them to further professional assistance,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt also takes part in an online parent class that are held Thursdays at 7 p.m., different directors and leaders across campus join the call to inform parents of different services on campus. “It is an open line of communication and that is successful,” said Schmidt.
A common difficulty parents face after sending their child off to school is, “the independence their students now have,” said Justice. “The amount of hands-on [resources] that families had in [kindergarten through twelfth grade] K-12 is not as readily available in a college setting.”
Justice said a goal of the Transition and Parent Programs is to be able to work with families to make sure they feel prepared to have conversations with their students.
Walsh said Justice will “do anything for any student struggling or not struggling. She is someone that will go that extra mile for anybody.”
As for Schmidt, Walsh said he is “the best listener I know, he is non-judgmental and that goes a long way with students who are struggling. He is very passionate about helping kids in the right direction.”
Izzy Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org