Points of Contact initiative helps students make a smooth transition to college
08.14.2014 | By Rob Vanya
Student tutor Oliver Perrett, left, provides study tips for San Jacinto College pharmacy technician student Fred Smith in the North Campus student success center. The College’s Points of Contact initiative introduces new students to tutoring and a wide range of other helpful services. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
Research indicates that many high school students have a hard time making the transition from high school to college simply because they struggle to navigate application, registration, enrollment, and other college entrance processes. San Jacinto College goes the extra mile to make the transition smoother through an initiative called Points of Contact (POC).
“When I attended high school, most of the registration and enrollment requirements were pretty much taken care of for me by someone else,” commented Fred Smith, a pharmacy technician student at San Jacinto College who finished his freshman year in May. “I was sort of shocked to learn that getting started in college was going to be mostly up to me, and it was a lot more complex than I had imagined. I’m just glad the Points of Contact was there to help me through the transition process.”
Through the initiative, first-time-in-college students like Smith are visited several times by Points of Contact presenters, who introduce resources and services to students, including financial aid, tutoring services, student life programs and activities, First Year Experience services, career assessment, and guided registration into future courses.
Smith especially benefitted by being introduced by POC presenters to the Student Success Center, which houses tutoring services. “At first, I did not know about the College’s Student Success Center and the free tutoring services,” he commented. “The Points of Contact introduced me to those resources, and it’s been a great benefit, because it has helped me to improve my study habits.” After earning a pharmacy technician certificate from San Jacinto College in 2015, Smith plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Houston. His ultimate career goal is to own his own pharmacy business.
Research shows that many prospective community college students in circumstances similar to Smith’s get overwhelmed during the summer after graduating from high school, suffering from what some education researcher’s call a “summer melt.” They can become bewildered by the magnitude of college entrance requirements, such as applying for financial aid or scholarships, setting up course plans, registering for classes, buying textbooks, and attending orientation. A recent study by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research found that during the summer after high school graduation, an estimated 40 percent of seniors from urban and suburban school districts abandon their plans to attend community colleges.
Clare Iannelli, dean of student development at the San Jacinto College North Campus, says such research shows how important it is for colleges to be proactive in making the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible for students.
“Because of early and intentional efforts such as Points of Contact, high school students are less likely to change their minds about attending college because their enrollment and registration processes have been supported and de-mystified,” Iannelli remarked.
Initial feedback indicates that the POC initiative at San Jacinto College is working. “We surveyed focus groups students in Fall 2013 on each campus,” Iannelli said. “The student feedback was very positive, with many saying they appreciated the College’s efforts. The student feedback and feedback from instructional partners helped us revamp the program this Spring. Since the revamp, we will now be able to track retention and success rates of students who experienced a Point of Contact, and we expect to have more working data soon.”
In addition to Points of Contact, San Jacinto College also helps prepare students for college through shared educational planners, who are housed at high schools in the San Jacinto College district, as well as at the College. “The role of San Jacinto College shared educational planners is to provide high school students with early introduction to our enrollment processes, financial aid services, testing services, and assistance with course registration,” commented Iannelli. “They do so by bringing San Jacinto College staff to high school campuses at designated and planned times of the year, some as early as the junior year of high school, so that the students develop an early understanding of the steps required to transition to college.” Shared educational planners also make group presentations and provide one-on-one support to prospective high school students.
“If we didn’t have these services and staff in place, such as shared educational planners and Points of Contact, it is easy to see where students would feel unprepared and unsure about navigating our college processes,” Iannelli said.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.