Sunday, 25 February 2024

New initiative Caring Campus strengthens connections across Yuba College, providing holistic student support

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — College can be an overwhelming experience but Yuba College is implementing a new program to make things feel less intimidating and more welcoming for students.

The initiative is called “Caring Campus” and empowers college personnel to break down silos and ensure all parts of the college can work in support of student success.

The Caring Campus program, created by the Institute for Evidence-Based Change, or IEBC, was designed to increase student retention and success in community colleges. It helps equip staff members with the tools they need to assist anyone on campus, even if their problem is unrelated to their area of expertise.

At its core, the program outlines how to interact with others on campus, creating a shared resource guide that allows Yuba College employees to assist students with any issue they may be facing.

The goal, according to IEBC, is to ensure students feel welcome, safe and included while in college. Caring Campus empowers classified professional staff to take an active role in student success.

Students are more likely to enroll in an institution where they feel welcome and stay where they feel cared about. If students do not feel connected to the college they attend, they are far less likely to persist and succeed, regardless of the academic interventions and support services the college has provided.

The initiative at Yuba College is being led by classified professional staff members hand-picked by college leadership to represent their departments.

The team created six commitments:

• Name tags for all staff, faculty and administrators with their names and titles.
• 10-foot rule: Greet and assist any student that looks like they need help.
• Cross-departmental awareness: Foster a culture of awareness of all parts of the college and their functions.
• Virtual cross-departmental awareness: Ensure online directories and pages are updated and accurate.
• Give contact information upfront: Guidance for virtual and phone interactions.
• Reaching out at key times: Protocol for establishing engagement with students so they know who to turn to and how to ask for help.

“These seem like small initiatives, but they truly have a tremendous impact,” said Carrie Stoner, program specialist for the college’s Disabled Students Programs and Services and Caring Campus committee member. “Putting these efforts into practice allows us to create a much more personal connection with students, which makes it easier for them to reach out when they need help or feel lost.”

The program has already been implemented at more than 120 colleges across the country, according to IEBC, and includes an implementation phase, a monitoring phase and a communication phase to ensure Caring Campus is seamlessly integrated and supported by the institution after launch.

Little resource commitment is required to implement the program, as it is rooted in inspiring behavior change to improve and enhance the many student success initiatives already at work in an institution.

IEBC said Caring Campus can go immediately to scale after just one or two semesters of coaching.

To learn more about the Caring Campus initiative, visit the Institute for Evidence-Based Change website.

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