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?

 

One thought on “Road Trip to Palo Alto College”

  1. Very interesting, Kristin. I’m looking forward to reading your whole series and learning a lot about what these winning schools are doing right. And, I’m super excited to see that someone else likes Girl in a Coma–this band is great!

     

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