Keene State College students had the chance to voice their opinions on the college and its future last week during a strategic planning session with consultants from a consulting firm, Keeling Associates.
According to their website, the group’s, “primary purpose is to help colleges and universities improve the quality and quantity of student learning.”
The meeting last Friday, Jan. 30 was “designed to help [KSC] identify the themes, opportunities and resources that will be shaped into our Strategic Plan and will provide the college with direction over the next five, ten, or even fifteen years,” according to the invitation to participate emailed to students.
Julia Lagace and William Holden serve as student representatives to the Strategic Planning Commission and met with students in the Mountain View Room of the student center.
Brock Thompson from Keeling Associates asked a group of students questions mainly about student success and the advising process.
Some students at the meeting expressed concern with the school’s process of selecting an advisor.
“I was undecided when I came to school and I was kind of lost. I was asking older friends on campus about finding an advisor,” Caitlin Licence said. Licence said when she finally found an advisor they ended up having a great relationship.
“She asks me how I’m doing when we see each other and we regularly communicate through email,” she said
Not everyone’s advisors are as accessible, though, Ryan Mahan, another senior, said. “I think what would be a better option is when you send in your declaration of major form, that’s when you select your advisor,” Mahan said. He said he thinks this would make the selection easier, since students would hopefully already be familiar with some of the teachers of their selected major.
Lagace wrote some of the key points the group made on a chart. The group discussed that there was a lack of consistency with advisors, some being heavily involved with their advisees and some being absent.
The group decided the school should encourage contact between advisors and advisees, especially with first-year students.
The groups of students also discussed an idea that upperclassmen could possibly help first-years with the transition to college life.
Lagace, who transferred to KSC after a year at another school, said her old school had a peer mentoring program that sounded similar to the one described above. “It was extremely helpful. I saw my peer mentor almost every week,” she said.
Another student brought up that scheduling is hard for underclassmen, especially those selecting a major. Having someone other than an academic advisor to help with scheduling and graduation requirements would be helpful, he said.
After listening to some of the students, Thompson recommended a new advising model. He suggested maybe students would like a “three legged stool” of advising. This would consist of an advisor dependent on the students major, someone else to help with scheduling and an upperclassmen for peer to peer advising. “It could be something introduced day one for freshmen,” he said.
One of the takeaways from this meeting is first-year students should get involved with groups on campus.
Mahan said that many of the clubs and groups he’s a part of now are due to recommendations from students in other clubs. For example, Mahan wouldn’t have known of Alternate Spring Break if it wasn’t for students on another trip he took.
“If you get involved in one thing here you’re going to eventually, within your time here, get involved with three to four other things,” he said.
The three seniors in the room said they would recommend KSC to their younger, senior in high school, selves.
Keeling Associates will return to campus later in the semester to conduct another strategic planning session.
Skyler Frazer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org