Rappahannock Community College is one of the smaller member institutions of the Virginia Community College System as regards student enrollment. But it also oversees one of the VCCS’s largest service regions. In an effort to make attending college more convenient for residents of this 12-county region’s outlying areas, RCC has recently opened satellite sites in King William and New Kent Counties, joining the long-established site in King George. All of these sites will soon introduce a success plan to provide the support and individual attention that students need, in order to orient themselves to college and prepare an academic plan leading to graduation.
To smooth each student’s transition from high school or the workplace to the academic world, RCC must pair recruitment efforts with easy access—from the very first contact between students and college representatives — to financial aid, academic services, student services, and counseling that maps out the desired curricular pathway. For this purpose, the college plans to establish “one-stop” centers at all three off-campus sites. Well-trained and knowledgeable success coaches will stand ready at each location to ensure that students have all the information and help that they need. They will introduce students to the college, and then nurture their interest in getting an education, as well as offering social support, enhancing confidence, and instilling study skills. These tactics should result in better placement test scores and quicker progression through course work.
Among other things, success coaches will use the online VCCS Educational Wizard to implement an immediate strategy for creating an educational and career plan. They will focus on building relationships with individual students that center on encouragement and reward, both for persevering toward their academic goals, and for connecting their RCC experience to their long-term educational and career goals.
Coaches for each of these sites will be able to keep track of progress made by students initially registered or enrolled at that site, through RCC’s SAILS system (Student Assistance and Intervention for Learning Success). This online alert system, accessible only to students’ instructors, faculty advisors, and authorized RCC staff, allows these persons either to raise flags indicating a concern about a student’s standing, or to award kudos for a job well done, either of which is delivered to the student concerned via e-mail. In this way, the entire student support team knows in detail where help is needed or praise should be bestowed, and can work together to optimize student performance.
The new success plan represents a tremendous opportunity to serve both RCC’s own region and the Commonwealth of Virginia. As with King George, the school superintendents in King William and New Kent showed their support by generously donating space to accommodate these services. RCC’s success coaches will be at New Kent’s Bridging Communities building on Tuesdays, 4-7 p.m., and at King William High School on Thursdays, 4-7p.m. They will continue their established schedule at King George High School: Monday through Thursday, 4-8:30 p.m.