STANDARD 9: STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES
In the context of its mission, an institution of higher education helps promote student success by providing an array of services designed to support learning and meet the unique needs of its student body. To assist students in achieving educational goals, the services offered should be appropriate to student needs, flexible in nature and comparable across the institution.
The College offers
a wide range of student support services and attempts to provide an appropriate
program of student support services that promote the development of a diverse student
population and are an integral part of the educational process, strengthening
student learning outcomes. This Self
Study focused on a number of student services under the umbrellas of Enrollment
Management, which covers those services that affect a student’s first contact
with the College through the first day of class (Recruitment, Admissions,
Financial Aid, Orientation, Assessment Center and Retention) and Student Life
Services, those that affect students along the continuum from entrance to the
College through their academic stay at the institution (Counseling, Advising,
Athletics, Co-curricular Activities and Health Services). Additional services with potential impact on
student success include Records and Registration,
responsibility for these areas falls in the domain of three different vice
presidents. The Vice President for
Student Affairs is responsible for Recruitment, Admissions, Records and
Registration, Financial Aid, Orientation, Retention, Counseling, Co-curricular
Activities, the Health and
As described earlier,
The student body
is primarily part-time and increasingly diverse. Females outnumber males and the median age is
27 years. Sixty-four percent of students
are enrolled in transfer or General Education programs, 17% in career programs
and 19% in non-credit, continuing education coursework (Statistical Compendium). While
the College’s enrollment affirms the importance of its role in the community,
such numbers present a significant challenge to providing to each student
services consistent with the College’s
The charge to the Committee studying Student Support Services focused on three main issues: whether the services provided by two key units, Enrollment Management and Student Life, are comprehensive, integrated and designed to meet the needs of the diverse student body served by the College; whether the institution protects student rights; and if assessment results of various activities in the student services areas are used to strengthen student success.
umbrellas of Enrollment Management and Student Life, the Committee identified
nineteen areas as having the greatest impact on a student’s ability to be
successful at the College. Individually,
the nineteen services were examined from multiple student perspectives:
traditional day, evening/weekend, distance education,
To inform its study, the Committee interviewed each service area’s Director, the Dean of Student Systems, the Academic Affairs Deans, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and the Regional Center Directors. Further, the Committee consulted numerous College documents including the 1996 and 1999 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory, the 2003 Middle States Current Student Survey, the 1993 Middle States Institutional Self Study and 1999 Periodic Review Report, the College’s 2000-2004 Strategic Plan, Cabinet Retreat: Major Issues (2001) and numerous Institutional Reports related to student outcomes. Additional resources used in the study of student rights and protections included the College Catalog and the Student Handbook.
In order to meet the needs of its student population, the College offers a wide range of support services. In the past ten years, the College has attempted to improve student support services by changing the physical layout, increasing space, and training personnel. The College is in the process of installing the new student system (SCT Banner) which is expected to improve student support services. Students have reported in institutional surveys that they are generally satisfied with most of the student support services provided to assist them in meeting their educational goals (see Graduate Surveys Results, 2003 Middle States Current Student Survey, surveys of former students, and IR Report #110).
Enrollment Management and Student Life Services
One of the measures used for this evaluation was the 2003 Middle States Current Student Survey. An overall analysis of responses was undertaken as well as separate analysis for student groups defined by full-time/part-time, day/evening, freshmen/sophomore, and Main Campus/Regional Center status (see IR Reports #130D through #130G). Students rated all the aspects of Enrollment Management and Student Life service areas above 80% when the Very Satisfied/Satisfied categories were combined (with the notable exception of Financial Aid). The Library and Learning Labs were ranked in the 95.5 % range when these two categories were combined, which speaks well of the level of support services provided by the College in critical academic areas. These findings are consistent with surveys of graduates and former students who have given high marks to most student support services they have used while a student at the College.
Throughout the student services areas there are historically well-functioning areas or services where relatively recent and considerable progress has been achieved. In addition, the College has succeeded in designing and implementing processes to meet the needs of some student sub-populations such as international students and students with disabilities.
The College awards a substantial amount of financial aid, processing more than 20,000 applications every year. Approximately 66 percent of full time and 49 percent of all students receive some type of financial aid. In addition to administering federal and state financial aid programs, the College offers an award and scholarship program for students enrolled at the College or for use by College students upon transfer.
The College’s Academic Advising Office provides services which are comprehensive, appropriate and available. In keeping with the current research linking student success and retention to good academic advising, all students are provided an advisor based on their selected curriculum or assigned program when they are admitted to the College. Students are permitted to enroll for classes by multiple venues: the College Connection (touch tone phone linked to Admissions personnel), through computer terminals (STARR system), mail, fax, in person at the registration counter (all linked to Records and Registration), and in person through Academic Advising (walk-ins and appointments). Student satisfaction ratings related to the services of the Academic Advising Office range from over 90%, (when the Satisfied and Very Satisfied categories are combined) on the 2003 Middle States Current Student Survey, to 81% on the 2002 Graduate Survey, and 69% on the surveys of former students.
Policies designed to protect students’ rights, to initiate grievances and to have their privacy protected are documented in the Student Handbook, the College Catalog and through policy statements available through the EEO/AA Office and the Office of the Dean of Student Life. The Student Handbook is available at the Student Affairs Office and it is disseminated at new student orientation sessions and within academic support programs such as the College Achievement Partnership, Act Now, Collaborative Learning Community (CLC), English as a Second Language (ESL), and TRIO Student Support Services. The College Catalog is available at all student service areas and most offices across all campuses and on the College’s website. While the EEO/AA office itself is located on Main Campus, its policies are widely disseminated and also available on the College’s website.
The College Board of Trustees adopted principles that guide the policies and procedures relating to the rights and responsibilities of students including: Freedom of Access to Higher Education, Freedom in the Classroom, Freedom of Inquiry and Expression, Freedom of Association, and Right to Due Process. An addendum to the Affirmative Action statement asserts the right of employees and students to work and study in an environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. Lastly, a statement of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act’s (FERPA) provisions, which seek to protect the privacy of educational records, permit review of records, and within guidelines, make corrections to errors, can be found in the College Catalog.
The College’s Sexual Harassment Policy and clear procedures for addressing violations are outlined in the Student Handbook; no comparable procedural guideline exists in that document for Affirmative Action grievances, though detailed EEO/AA Complaint Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy statements are available in the Affirmative Action Office of the College and on the College’s website (College Policies & Procedures: EEO/AA Policies).
Many procedures are
in place for protecting student confidentiality.
There are four crucial areas where students’ rights to confidentiality
must be most rigorously protected: Division of Student Systems, Center on
Disability, Office of Information Technology Services, and Health and
The process by which a student files an academic complaint or an appeal is outlined in the Student Handbook. Students may initiate action at various offices in the College. Some complaints, such as those related to safety or harassment, may be filed first in the Office of Security. Any security report involving a student is reported to the Dean of Student Life, while any incident which includes a charge of discrimination or sexual harassment is additionally reported to the EEO/AA Office.
Four overarching deficiencies in the student support services area were identified: lack of an enrollment management plan; lack of effective communication, goal setting and planning between the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs offices; inconsistent use of assessment data to make decisions and improve student support services; and difficulties in managing the College’s large and complex financial aid programs.
While the College has attempted to understand and improve student services in a variety of ways, a number of student support concerns, such as enrollment management and financial aid, that were raised in the previous Self Study have not been addressed adequately (see IR Report #89).
Enrollment Management and Student Life Services
Each student brings a unique set of needs to the College. For some students, enrollment management services flow seamlessly, however this is not true for all. The admissions process to select programs may appear slow and cumbersome to a student. Limited student support services are available in the evenings and on weekends. Transfer students experience difficulty during registration because the process of transcript evaluation is back-logged. In addition, transfer students may be unaware of the process for transcript evaluation and, therefore, may experience difficulty in registering for courses that require prerequisites which they have taken elsewhere.
Differences exist in student support services between
Advising is not confined to one office but is intimately intertwined with registration and thus spread across several of the College’s support areas: Academic Advising, Counseling, the Center on Disability, academic departments and Records and Registration. Students may be unaware of the different roles of counselors and advisors in the enrollment management process. For example, counselors are responsible for advising and registration of new students while advisors are responsible for advising continuing students. While the faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement states which students are required to be advised and registered by a College employee, the remainder, such as unrestricted continuing students, are permitted to self-advise and self-register and may or may not seek advice from any resource. These students may or may not be aware of who their assigned advisor is or even of their curriculum despite being systematically alerted to the availability of advising each semester. In addition, students are confused when the College begins registration before their assigned advisor is available for an appointment or before the date announced in the Catalog. The current self-advising and registration process makes it possible for students to register for courses which are not part of their curriculum or for courses that are not consistent with their academic goals, which could result in undesirable student outcomes.
The Office of Financial Aid has consistently been identified as an area of concern as documented in the 1993 Middle States Self Study, the 1996 and 1999 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory, and the 2003 Middle States Current Student Survey. Over the last year, two different consultants were utilized to evaluate this service and some of the recommendations have assisted the staff’s ability to process financial aid applications in a more timely and efficient manner. Nevertheless, given the complexity of financial aid forms and exceedingly heavy volume during the weeks leading up to the beginning of a semester, this Office frequently finds itself overwhelmed by the demand placed on its staff. As a result, long lines, protracted waiting periods, and rising student frustration prior to each semester still exist on Main Campus, while available services at the Regional Centers are limited and serve only as an intake process. In addition, the Office of Financial Aid has not been in full compliance with external regulations associated with this area.
Student groups with special needs are not served well by the current registration process. For example, students who placement-test into the ABE (Adult Basic Education) level may be invited to the campus along with those who are college-ready only to be told upon arrival that they cannot register for college level courses. Registration by phone has no built-in checks to insure that a student has satisfied the course prerequisites or has registered for linked sections of a course. Students in programs such as Study Abroad or courses with clinical experiences may not be informed that specific tasks or forms must be completed within a specified time frame. Students registering for the same class for a third time are not systematically alerted to the academic progress policy and financial aid implications. The Financial Aid Office’s slow eligibility approvals and reversal decisions result in students being added to or removed from class rosters several times over several weeks. This practice is frustrating and confusing for both the affected students and their instructors. Registration after the first day of classes has been a concern since the last Self Study. However, counter to College policy, this practice continues at the College. All of these concerns may negatively impact student persistence and learning.
While the College has an expressed commitment to student success, student persistence continues at relatively low levels. Half of full-time students return for a subsequent fall semester and only 37% of part-time students return in a subsequent fall term (IR Report #120). There is a lack of clarity about the role of the Office of Orientation and Retention. As it now exists, this Office does not function in the context of a College-wide coordinated effort to improve student persistence.
There is also a lack of clarity about the role and function of the Health and Wellness Office. The Office sponsors health promotion activities on the Main Campus. When the Office is closed or when the staff is not available, Security responds to medical emergencies. When a medical emergency occurs, the process and procedures for handling the situation are not always clear.
Although the College has made attempts to promote student success through enrollment management and student life services, many factors such as inefficient business practices, inconsistent assessment of the services provided, ineffective use of limited available space, inadequate technological support and insufficient resources may inhibit a student’s ability to experience a seamless transition into and through the institution. A number of these individual student support service areas attempt to garner some student feedback in order to assess the quality of their service(s) and make modifications.
Assessment of student services is not as straightforward as academic program evaluation since the goals of student support services are not as well articulated as program goals. A review of the individual assessment plans of the nineteen support services revealed inconsistent implementation of assessment plans as well as inconsistent use of assessment data for planning and improving student support services. As a result, the College is slow to respond to the needs of emerging or changing student populations. For example, most student support service procedures are designed for the traditional student; many student service problems arise as student populations change and flexible course delivery options are offered.
Since the last Self Study there have been a number of evaluation activities associated with the services provided by the Student Affairs Office. Focus groups of new students were convened to identify institutional barriers encountered by students as they work through the course registration process at the College (see IR Report #89). Another effort to assess student support services included a detailed process assessment of all enrollment activities from point-of-inquiry through the payment process. Representatives from many College offices and departments participated in the discussions that focused on describing current activities, assessing weaknesses, and identifying ways to improve the enrollment process. Additionally, the College participated in the Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory in both 1996 and 1999 in the hopes of assessing student satisfaction with support services using national benchmarks (IR Report #110).
It is anticipated that with implementation of the new student management system, SCT Banner, some of the concerns raised may be alleviated. However, without coordinated and ongoing assessment of mission effectiveness in support service areas and a commitment to use the assessment information to effect change, it is unlikely that service to students will improve.
Students’ Rights and Protections
Most students’ rights are thoroughly addressed and specific avenues of grievance are clearly defined in the Student Handbook and there is reference to an appeals advisor who may assist a student in a grievance procedure. However, it is not made clear how a student may contact such an advisor. Given the importance of this support in the appeals process, the Handbook should clearly identify the office where a student may contact such an advisor.
All information about student rights, responsibilities and privacy should be available in one location on the College’s website. Currently, the Appeals Procedures are embedded in the Student Records and Regulations and Academic Standards Policies section of the College Policies and Procedures page of the website, while the Affirmative Action and Sexual Harassment policies are under the EEO/AA Policies section of the College Policies and Procedures webpage. The Right to Privacy and Confidentiality (FERPA) is not currently part of this policy website.
The College strives to maintain confidential student information by distributing guidelines for protecting confidential information to faculty when class lists are distributed during the third week of class. However, it is not clear whether all faculty members receive these guidelines or follow them. Implementation of the new student data system (SCT Banner) is expected to improve handling of confidential student information.
· Develop and implement a comprehensive enrollment management plan, including marketing, that would address the independent and interdependent functions of the entire student service area and that would have as one of its goals the development of a coordinated, sustained effort to improve student retention.
· Strengthen communication and coordination between the offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in order to promote and improve student learning outcomes.
· Ensure that student services are delivered in a high quality, efficient and timely manner and that all services comply with external regulations.
· Increase the use of technology to improve services to all students.
· Develop strategies to expand services in the evenings, on weekends and at the Regional Centers. In particular, attention should be paid to financial aid, counseling, and bookstore operations in order to assure adequate student support services.
· Redesign the self-advising/self-registration process in order to ensure that each student receives sound course selection and career/transfer advice in a timely manner. Expand opportunities for students to develop a sustained relationship with an academic advisor.
· Define the role and responsibilities of the Office of Orientation and Retention so that this Office functions in the context of a College-wide, coordinated effort to improve student persistence.
Clarify and strengthen
the role and responsibilities of the Health and
· Develop and implement a formal process to collect and analyze data concerning the frequency and outcomes of student complaints. Procedures should be implemented to track and record patterns and trends of recurring grievances. The Office for Academic Affairs should conduct a study of academic grievances to determine if procedures are consistently applied and timelines are followed.
· Routinely and systematically disseminate to faculty processes and procedures necessary to protect confidentiality.
· Revise College documents and the website to assure that all student rights and protections appear in the same location of the Student Handbook and College Catalog. In addition, the College should consider designating an ombudsperson to ensure a more systematic way of addressing grievances, ensuring consistency, and supporting students in the appeals process.
· Undertake an ongoing assessment of effectiveness of student support service needs and use the results as a basis for resource allocation.
A. Institutional Research Reports Related to Standard 9:
· IR Report #89 – Potential Administrative Barriers to Student Retentions (1/96)
IR Report #93 – Beating the Odds: Reasons for At-risk
Student Success at
· IR Report #105 – Barriers to the Persistence of Students with Freshman and Sophomore Status (7/99)
· IR Report #106 – Transfer Outcomes of 1997 Graduates and Former Students (9/99)
· IR Report #107 – Career Outcomes of 1997 Graduates and Former Students (9/99)
· IR Report #110 – Student Satisfaction with Student Services, Academic and Campus Climate 1996-1999 (1/00)
· IR Report #119 – Institutional Effectiveness 2000 – A College Report Card (1/01)
· IR Report #120 – Student Attrition at CCP – When Students Leave, Why They Leave, and Their Academic Success at Departure (6/01)
· IR Report #125 – Institutional Effectiveness 2001 – A College Report Card (3/02)
IR Report #128 - The Progress of 2001 Graduates of
· IR Report #129 -Institutional Effectiveness 2002 - A College Report Card (1/03)
· IR Report #130A - Responses to Middle States Self Study Current Student Questionnaire (4/03)
· IR Report #130B - Responses to Middle States Self Study Faculty/Staff Questionnaire (4/03)
IR Report #130D
- Responses to
IR Report #130E – Responses to
IR Report #130F – Responses to
IR Report #130G - Responses to
· IR Report #134 - Transfer Outcomes of 2002 Graduate and Non-Graduate Former Students (12/03)
· IR Report #135 - Career Outcomes of 2002 Graduate and Non-Graduate Former Students (12/03)
B. Institutional Research In-Briefs Related to Standard 9:
· IR In-Brief #90 – West Chester Acceptance Achievement and Persistence Outcomes Associated with Former CCP Students Who Enrolled at West Chester University in 1991 and 2001(12/01)
IR In-Brief #91 – Acceptance Outcomes of Former CCP
Students Who Applied to
C. Office of the President, Mission Statement
D. Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, Student Handbook for 2002-2003.
Office of the
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Community College of
Office of the
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Community College of
G. Office of the Vice President for Planning and Finance, 2000-2004 Strategic Plan, Strategic Principle #4 (10/02)
Office of the
Vice President for Planning and Finance, Assessment
Plan: An Overview of Efforts to Understand Institutional Effectiveness at the
I. Office of the Vice President for Planning and Finance, Campus Master Plan 2003, Part III – 2003 Master Plan Space Goals
J. Office of the President, President’s Cabinet Retreat, 1993 MSA Self Study: Major Issues Somewhat Unresolved (11/01)
K. Office of Communications, College Catalog (2003-2004)
L. Office of Institutional Research, 1996 and 1999 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventories
Click here to view or add comments.
Click here to view or add comments.