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College officials expect SAIL to help new students stay afloat

Posted on Saturday, August 14, 2004


Chesapeake College officials hope new students will now find it easier – and more profitable – to SAIL through their freshman year.

Success and Interactive Learning (SAIL) is a pilot retention program the college is launching to help new, full-time freshmen navigate their way through that often-difficult first year in college. The program combines front-loading of academic support services with a unique incentive plan that provides tuition discounts to those students who complete the program, achieve a minimum grade-point average, and return for a second semester.

"We want to use SAIL to get new students connected to academic supports and involved in college activities," said Counselor Joan Seitzer, one of the architects of the SAIL initiative. "All the available retention data indicates that students who take advantage of support services and become involved in school activities enjoy greater academic success."

Counselor Amy Childs, who also participated in the development of SAIL, said Chesapeake already offers the academic support students need. The challenge, according to Childs, is getting students to access these services before it’s too late.

"Too often students wait too long to ask for help," said Childs. "SAIL is designed to make students more aware of available services and make access of these services second nature – if they are encountering academic difficulty, they know where to go."

SAIL is being implemented for the Fall 2004 semester, which begins later this month. Seitzer encouraged all first-time college students taking a full-time class load to consider contacting her (410-827-5808) or Childs (410-827-5826) about signing up for SAIL.

Students actually enroll in SAIL by completing an application form by the end of the second full week of classes. Students then have to proceed through key checkpoints on a "navigational chart."

"The program requirements are designed not only to acquaint students with our services, but to have them access at least some of the services in order to successfully complete the program," said Seitzer.

Participants have to pass the college’s Freshman Seminar Course (FSC 101) with a grade of "C" or better and attend Services Open Houses where they learn about all the academic support services the college has to offer. They also have to utilize services in three key areas: 1.) career interest testing/transfer advising; 2.) academic skills or technology workshops, or supplemental instruction; and 3.) membership in a student organization or participation in a college activity.

"This program is going to connect students with important resources at the college," said Childs. "It should also increase their sense of belonging to the college, and being part of some larger group."

The payoff – literally – will come next January when Chesapeake begins the Spring 2005 semester. Students who successfully complete SAIL and finish the fall semester with a grade-point average of 2.0 to 2.99 will receive a $100 tuition discount for the Spring 2005 semester. Those who earn a 3.0 GPA or higher in the fall receive a $200 tuition discount for the spring.

"Our hope is we’re going to be paying out a lot in tuition discounts," said Seitzer. "We want SAIL participants to start their college experience with a successful fall semester and come back in the spring with all the tools to experience continued success."


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