The New Student Success Program (NSSP) is an innovative program created by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs as a component of the IU Northwest Campus Diversity Plan. NSSP involves faculty, staff, and students from various units, departments and backgrounds. Its purpose is to provide a cohort of incoming freshmen with strategic academic support, guidance, and advisement to ensure a successful start towards graduation. The program provides students with course materials (books and some supplies), as well as individual acclimation to IU Northwest by peer mentors.
NSSP is administrated by a committee of faculty, staff, and administrators. The committee meets regularly to establish and assess annual goal and objective attainment. Key performance indicators are: academic success, retention, and satisfaction with out-of-class experiences. Students are required to register as a cohort for four (4) linked courses which they attend as a group over two (2) semesters. The courses are: English Composition W130 and W131, Introduction to Communications SPCH-S121, and Freshman Seminar COAS-S104. Classes are taught by a team of dedicated faculty who work closely with the NSSP committee to track student performance and identify areas for strategic intervention and program improvement.
Peer mentor support is structured to provide multiple benefits for NSSP students. Peer mentors are interviewed, selected by the NSSP Committee, and trained for their role in the program. Each mentor has a track record of academic success and provides one-on-one guidance about how to effectively utilize campus resources. In addition, the cohort structure provides a learning community which builds a strong social network and increases each student’s overall academic success potential.
Several members of the university community have collaborated to make NSSP a success. The NSSP committee consists of Cathy Hall, Director of Special Retention Programs; Dr. Patricia Hicks, Director, Student Support Services; Dr. Cynthia O’ Dell, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs; Dr. Paul Blohm, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Linda Templeton, Director of Admissions, and James Wallace, Interim Director, Office of Diversity Programming.
Surveys from two cohorts of the NSSP program revealed the majority of students felt the assistance of the mentors enabled them to adjust swiftly to the university environment, and a positive correlation existed between their involvement in NSSP and the grades they received. Further, NSSP students have maintained higher GPA’s when compared with other students of similar academic background while maintaining an average retention rate of 78%.
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