Help can be found at the Academic Success Center in the library

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 8:00 PM

When it comes to academic success, there’s only one place to go: the Baron-Forness Library. The books are certainly a perk, but on the second floor, the Academic Success Center (ASC) is there to help students.

The ASC has a unique staff to help all students reach their potential here at Edinboro University. There are many Academic Success Coordinators to meet with, based on the student’s major. Their staff is comprised of Brenda Abreu-Baker (education), Aarron Hunsinger (humanities and social sciences), LaTessa McClendon (art, art education, music and music education), George Morgan III (business and undeclared) and Ashley Wassel (science and health).

Dr. Philomena Gill, assistant vice president of academic and student success, and her team offers a variety of activities to students to help them succeed.

“One of the main things is that it’s a struggle to transition from high school to college,” said Gill. “A lot of the students who did really well in high school, when they come to college it’s completely different and they don’t understand why they’re not getting the same grades they had in high school.”

According to the 2018-19 annual report conducted by the ASC, most of the appointments made by students were for scheduling assistance, in addition to academic concerns and for the Steps to Success (S2S) program.

Some of the resources offered to students include, but are not limited to: S2S, Starfish, new student scheduling and Smarthinking.

During the 2018-19 academic year, the annual report states that 252 students used the S2S program. The program is designed to help students on academic probation or warning, meaning the student ended a semester with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or lower.

Gill mentioned the students in this program meet with a mentor, their coordinator and their professors to complete a course progress report.

“The goal of the program is to get them back into good academic standing by the end of the semester,” Gill said. “Students have activity logs they fill out over the steps to help them receive credit toward the program.”

Results from the S2S program found that students who did complete it were 14% more likely to end the semester in good academic standing than those who did not. Their term GPA even goes up 0.55 more than those who didn’t complete the steps.

Starfish is the EU retention technology software, complete with early alert, allowing faculty and staff to send concerns and positive feedback regarding a student’s progress. It also has a “Connect” feature designed to promote student engagement. According to the annual report, 828 concerns were sent in.

“Faculty can flag students who are not doing too well in their class; that flag will then go to the responding coordinator,” said Gill. “The coordinator will then reach out to the student to discuss the flag they received.”

Gill used the example of missing or late assignments. Hunsinger would receive it for a humanities and social sciences student, while then reaching out to them with a message such as, “Hey, I see you were flagged for missing or late assignments. Is everything OK?”

New student scheduling is meant for prospective EU students who already paid their deposit. After doing so, the Academic Success Coordinator for the student’s major will then set up a schedule convenient for that student. For 2018-19, there were 647 schedules made for the incoming freshmen class.

Smarthinking is a professional company offering web-based tutoring to supplement peer tutoring. The majority (90%) of the tutors have a master’s or doctoral degrees. 

The live tutor’s help ranges from writing and math, to IT and nursing. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The annual report found that during 2018-19, 259 students participated in these tutoring sessions.

Any student can walk into the ASC and meet with their coordinator, who is there to help them out.

“We are very passionate about what we do,” said Gill. “Everyone who works at the Academic Success Center has a life passion for working with these students and helping these students, and there is no greater reward for us than to see a student succeed and for us to help a student succeed.”

She continued: “Some students don’t need our help — they’re just great students and that’s fine — but when we can help a student and give them that lightbulb moment, it really is very rewarding for us. We’re just very intrinsically rewarded by that.”

The ASC is open for students from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Baron-Forness Library. They can be reached by phone at (814) 732–2218, or by email at

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