Focus on Community/Arts
New Skipjacks SAIL into 2004-05 academic year

Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2004


 

It seems only natural that a bunch of new Skipjacks would be interested in SAIL-ing through their first semester at Chesapeake College.

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. Student athletes – with the strong encouragement of their coaches – are one of the largest student groups signing up for the program.

"I’m recommending all of our freshman student athletes sign up for this program," said Chesapeake College Athletic Director Frank Szymanski. "This program emphasizes services all students should use, and it even offers tuition discounts for those students who complete the program and meet certain academic requirements."

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.

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.

"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."

Baseball player Jason Dodd, a freshman who graduated from Queen Anne’s County High School, said the appeal of SAIL quickly became apparent.

"There’s a lot of academic support – and there’s also the money," said Dodd.

Alan Chance, a freshman from Easton High School, agreed.

"The money is one reason I’m signing up," said Chance, "and it sounds like there’s a lot of academic support."

Seitzer said it isn’t too late for other students – athletes or not – to sign up for SAIL. In fact, she encouraged all of the college’s first-time 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."

"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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