Helping Students Find Their Resilience
COVID-19 has changed some aspects of campus life, but it also affirmed that academic advising is a vital part of the St. Lawrence experience.
Every student has questions about learning: Am I doing this right? How can I learn more or become a better learner? What courses should I take next? Which major is right for me? And what about Grad school?!
Academic advising helps students find the answers that are best for them. In 2017, with support from The Campaign for Every Laurentian, St. Lawrence created the Center for Student Achievement. In addition to student advising, the CSA is also home to the First-Year Program, Disability and Accessibility Services, Academic Development and Academic Support, Career Connections, the Higher Education Opportunity Program, CSTEP and McNair Programs, and Peer-to-Peer Tutoring.
“It’s all still happening,” Elun Gabriel says. He’s the associate dean of academic advising and professor of history at St. Lawrence. “We help just about every student—on and off campus—with learning, getting access to the additional services they need, test taking, and declaring majors. They’re applying for Fulbright semesters and other off-campus study opportunities, and, of course, graduate schools.”
~“We help just about every student—on and off campus— with learning, getting access to the additional services they need, test taking, and declaring majors."~
- Elun Gabriel, Associate Dean of Academic Advising and Professor of History
For the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, meetings between students and academic advisors are now mostly online. Gabriel says students talk openly about the challenges of learning during a pandemic.
“They say it’s hard, but they’re figuring it out,” he adds. “It’s been reassuring to see that academic advising has helped students find their resilience through all this. We talk with advisees about limiting distractions and how they can focus on their academics.
Some students tell us—and others demonstrate—that this is yielding positive results: They’re doing more work and they’re going deeper into the subjects they’re studying.” Some students, however, may find themselves struggling.
“For some students who excelled in their classes on campus,” he says, “participating in online courses can be challenging. It can feel harder to speak up if they can’t always see reactions or body language from professors and other students. So, in advising, we talk about strategies that help these students connect.”
He’s noticed that students are growing more comfortable initiating meetings and other discussion groups.
“There has been a good amount of adventurousness,” Gabriel says. “Many students have been tremendously open and creative. And sometimes it feels like we’re all sitting in class and, even though we’re not on campus, we’re using this online medium to create a St. Lawrence experience.”
Matt McCluskey '99, Coordinator of Academic Engagement with students.
The Center for Student Achievement
Providing students accessibility to learning services, places to take tests, study, and safely work on academic projects together, the CSA has become a vital hub on the St. Lawrence campus.
With safety and distancing precautions in place, students continue to visit and use the Center for Student Achievement. By making a gift in support of our students and academic advising, donors can name these spaces within the CSA:
- Testing and Study Rooms $250,000 In the center of the CSA, surrounded by staff and support offices, is a cluster of 37 exam rooms. They can be used by students as quiet study spaces or for taking exams, often with extended time, in a reduced-distraction environment.
- Multi-Purpose Room $200,000 “Our multi-purpose room is invaluable,” Elun Gabriel says. “Students meet here to work with advisors and each other. It’s a study space with computers, conference table, and projection screen for students.”
- Open Collaboration Space $200,000 This large area accommodates safe student usage of the room’s two white boards, LCD screen, and adjustable seating. “Students can be safely socially distanced here while still working together,” according to Gabriel.
- Conference Study Room $100,000 “We now have a large, clear barrier over the 10-seat conference table in this space,” Gabriel says. “This gives faculty, staff, and students a place where they can have safe, socially distanced meetings. This is also where students are doing the important work of tutoring other students.”
“All of these spaces in the CSA get a lot of good, student use,” Gabriel says. “Most often, that means collaborative, peer-to-peer, and team-based work, including group projects. Work—actual, professional work—is not a solitary pursuit. Our students must learn to be effective team members and leaders and that’s happening, now, in the Center for Student Achievement.”
Center for Student Achievement