Category Archives: higher education

Road Trip to Palo Alto College

First stop on the Aspen Finalist road trip is Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas and it just so happens I have the perfect vehicle for this journey.

Meet Bruiser, our 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa convertible. A perfect Write 6 x 6 virtual road trip ride.

I realize that this is a virtual trip, but I believe in a good soundtrack with some local music to get in the San Antonio mood.

“Jacaranda” by Rosita Fernandez know as San Antonio’s First Lady of Song.

“Honky-Tonk” with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown who began his professional career in San Antonio.

And “Smart” by San Antonio indie girl band Girl in a Coma

Now on to Palo Alto College (PAC) in south San Antonio. PAC is part of the Alamo Colleges District. They serve about ten thousand students per semester, with a majority (78%) Hispanic student population.

I wish we all had more time for a deep dive, but that isn’t my reality. So here are a few things I learned and like about PAC and how they have developed an advising culture to promote student success.

Campus Culture – #PeopleOfPAC

The first thing that I noticed is the campus culture. Check out their Facebook page especially the #PeopleOfPAC. Beto O’Roarke was on campus recently with a huge crowd of students in attendance, there are regular posts with interesting events and speakers on campus all the time. They even have a mini farm where students can have their own garden space. I love this campus already. The affection for the community, students, faculty and employees seems genuine.

https://www.facebook.com/paloaltocollege/

Certified Advisors

Yes. Palo Alto College has a certification process and extensive training for their advisors.

Certified student advisors are required to have bachelor’s degrees and go through extensive training called Council on Adult and Educational Learning (CAEL.) The three primary modules for training involve roles, responsibilities, and duties as an advisor; academic advising theory; and academic advising sessions.

The training involves establishing a rapport with a student by understanding gender, ethnicity, equity, as well as conducting mock advising sessions for efficiency.

“That’s part of the whole advising model…but building a relationship with trust is a key aspect of having a good relationship,” said Eloisa Cordova, certified student advisor.

Read more here: https://pacpulse.com/2018/05/03/pac-students-place-their-trust-in-certified-student-advisors-hands/

Advising Centers Grouped by Field of Interest

At the Alamo Colleges-Palo Alto College, academic advising and career advising build a culture of integrated practices and shared responsibilities. Through collaborative teaching and learning, the advising process empowers diverse student populations to explore and navigate their academic and career pathways. Palo Alto College has three Academic Advising Centers. Each provide academic advising support to new and currently enrolled students.

  • The Business Opportunities Leadership Demand (BOLD) Occupations Advising Center,
  • Service Education Empowerment Diversity (SEED) Advising Center, and
  • the Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) Advising Center

http://mypaccatalog.alamo.edu/content.php?catoid=119&navoid=6513#Undergraduate_Advising_Center

The Advising Scorecard (Being Data Informed)

I am getting more and more interested in how we collect and use data to drive decision-making, especially in Advisement, and was impressed with PAC’s compilation of Data. There is a lot of information, so I’ll leave it to you to wander through any of these documents on your own.  I have listed the Data Components of PAC’s Advising Scorecard because it is something I haven’t seen before and find it interesting.

Palo Alto College 2017-2018 Fact Book

Palo Alto College Data Portal

Advising Scorecard

Data Components of PAC’s Advising Scorecard

  • Success Rates: Percent of Caseload that earned an A, B, or C (PGR), Failure Rate, Completion Rate & Withdrawal Rate
  • Semester to Semester Persistence: Students persisting from Fall to Spring or Spring to Fall
  • Fall to Fall Persistence: Students persisting from Fall to Fall
  • Caseload Contact Rate: Percent of caseload that has been advised by Certified Advisor
  • Graduation Rate: Percent of caseload that graduated in a particular semester
  • Early Alert Rate: Percent caseload that had a Level II Early Alert submitted
  • Academic Standing: Percent of caseload in good standing, on probation, or on dismissal

I hope you have enjoyed the first stop on our Aspen Finalists tour. Our next stop is Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Do I hear Salsa music?

 

Flying Books Deliver Daily Inspiration

This is my reality: All day…every day, books fly through the library and ultimately land in my hands. It’s as if these items take flight from the book stacks and land right on my desk… This experience of coming into direct contact with countless, random books every day inspires me tremendously. I wish I could track how much I’ve grown and learned, professionally and personally, since I joined the GCC Library family. Working in Access Services at an academic library is certainly a dream come true for a bookworm like me. A sample of our library’s extensive collection materializes each day. On every horizontal surface, books perch patiently, inviting me to take a closer look.

The written word speaks to my soul. Spoken words are fine, but reading words on a page transcends an auditory experience. Silent and deep, books change my life, one sentence at a time. Each book feels like a stepping stone. Or maybe more like shells on the beach…I ignore most, but certain gems capture my attention. In the same way, some books go unnoticed while others introduce me to a perfectly-timed message with lasting effects. It’s magical actually.

Momentary, random encounters can yield deep thoughts.
Recently I found the words of Octavia Butler and Brian Bilston.  In the library, inspiration is just a page away…

Refugees by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

          (now read from bottom to top)

 


 

A Series on Higher Education and Democracy: Newt and ALEC

After a series of significant events in my county’s community college district, I’ve decided to write a series of short posts about Higher Education and Democracy for the Write 6X6 project on my campus.

If you want to hear something that might make you feel like you were just punched in the gut, take a listen to Newt Gingrich with his address at ALEC  Fiscal Responsibility in Higher Education Academy in October 2017. You need to know what people are thinking and where they are headed.

Let me know what you think!

 

Week 1: The One Thing You can do to Raise Enrollment

A six week “how-to” series
Week 1, Step 1: How to Impact Enrollment. But first, a story.

My biggest failure happened when I was a wet-behind-the-ears youth leader. I was actively looking to raise money for youth activities and I had responded to an ad pitching a T-shirt fundraiser. The company featured exciting, fun, faith-based designs on sleeveless T-shirts, and, for a limited time, was selling the shirts at a steep discount. The deal involved paying in advance with no returns and no refunds, but these things did not matter because these sleeveless shirts would sell themselves. I used my tax refund money to purchase the shirts. The shirts arrived and we began selling. But, instead of buying the shirts, our friends and families asked: Don’t you have any T-shirts with short sleeves? It turns out that people are so adverse to wearing sleeveless T’s that the fundraiser tanked horribly. It was a hard pill to swallow, but it changed my life.

I learned to never make decisions “based on a hunch.” I came to love data informed decision-making, and I am not alone. In this data driven age, even the youngest consumers are making informed decisions by comparing products, pricing, and reputation, including incoming college students and their families.

You’ve probably guessed by now, the “one thing” you can do is based on what works, study proven methods, and not gut instinct. So, what is the “one thing” you can do to influence the student decision-making process, raise enrollment, and raise GCC’s reputation in an increasingly crowded marketplace?

Before I spill the beans, you should know that conversely, by not doing this “one thing,” you risk falling off your potential students’ radar completely, and losing them to a competitor. There is a lot at stake and much to be gained.

The first step:

Go to www.gccaz.edu, and type your last name into the search box. Take a look at your employee biography webpage. What do you see?  If you were a student, is there anything on your page that would make you choose you?

What’s ahead:

WEEK 2: THE “ONE THING” AND ITS POWERFUL SWAY
When it comes to students choosing your classes, leaving choice up to chance is not your only option.

WEEK 3: THE “ONE THING” AND IT’S NOT BRAGGING
Reputation is king. Making your achievements public enables people to make informed choices.

WEEK 4: THE “ONE THING,” AND HOW TO INFLUENCE ASSUMPTIONS
Learn the top trait people assess when viewing strangers’ photos, and how your face, wrinkles and all, makes people choose you.

WEEK 5: The “One Thing” Before and After
If two faculty are each offering the same class, who would YOU choose?

WEEK 6: The “One Thing” and the Final Step

 

What Inspires?

I’m participating in GCC‘s Write 6×6 event this semester. And no weaseling out of it by being too busy. I’m actually scheduling time during the week to write, and you should expect 6 posts over the next 5 weeks (it’s supposed to be 6 weeks, but I’m already late for my first post … late but NOT given up on!).

The suggested first week’s post is to write about what inspires us to do what we do at GCC. That’s what I’m doing.

I’m the Instructional Media Developer at GCC. I work in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Engagement. Our mission is to be a professional development resource for Faculty and Staff. And my job is to help Faculty and Staff professionally develop by helping them to create instructional multimedia. That can be anything from writing, handouts, spreadsheets, audio recordings, video, pretty graphics or flyers, infographics, interactive animations of one format or another, and the list goes on!

So what inspires me to do what I do is: Faculty or Staff with a message they want to deliver to our students in an engaging way.

Elsewhere, and this is just an example of uninspiring multimedia, I’ve seen people try flipping the classroom by recording hour-long lectures from the back of the classroom and posting them into Canvas. The shot is stationary, the sound is awful because it includes all the rustling generated by the students closest to the camera, and the instructor and whiteboard look tiny and can barely be seen. That’s not the kind of thing that inspires me.

Could you watch a scene like this, with barely intelligible audio, for an hour?


Photo: Broad run algebra class by James H Dunning

But here at GCC, I work with Faculty and Staff who are very motivated to help our students succeed. When someone like that comes in with a specific goal, it’s very inspiring to me, and I’ll dig deep to provide the know-how.

Academic advisor Isaac Torres notices students don’t understand the difference between Advisement and Counseling:

Adjunct ESL Faculty member Elizabeth Macdonald realizes her students need help getting their children off to a good start in Arizona’s public schools:

Psychology faculty Dr. Patricia Lavigne wants to encourage psychology students to join Psi Beta without personally making a pitch to every class during the first week of school:

There are so many inspirational faculty and staff at GCC who go an extra mile to help students and engage them in the learning process. You motivate me to do what I do, especially when you tell me your dreams, schemes, wild ideas and if-onlys, and then let me help you make them a reality. Bring in the thing you want to improve and let’s partner up to make it better.