The Office of Academic Support Services (OASS) offers the following programs in support of new undergraduates as they make their transition into the University at Albany community. These comprehensive support services include the study groups, university tutors, academic early warning program, independent tutoring program, faculty mentoring programs, and study skills workshops. OASS also administers programs that include the Educational Opportunites Program, Project Excel, C-STEP/AGEP/LSAMP, STEP, and UARP.
Study Group Plan
In 24 freshman classes, the Office sponsors study groups free of charge to all students. A study group consists of several students in a given course that decide to meet on a regular basis for discussions, analysis, and reviewing of course material. Participation in a study group can be an excellent way to prepare for exams, since participants must organize their thinking about course topics and present or defend, their individual perspectives before the group. Study groups emphasize the student’s active involvement with course material. Participants are encouraged to re-examine concepts, to question or to challenge each other with respect to course topics. Study groups can also help to maintain a high level of interest and enthusiasm towards course work and allow students to examine ways in which the course is personally meaningful or relevant to their college goals.
Coordinated by a graduate student who serves as a facilitator, the objectives of the study group concept are: (1) to clarify course material through restatement or illustrations, using familiar terms and concepts, and (2) to assist study group members in learning course material and achieving success in the course.
Each study group, in addition to the facilitator, may have University Tutors on hand to assist with questions and problems. These tutors, who are qualified undergraduate students, will at times also offer individualized assistance to those study group students who seek special attention.
Academic Early Warning System
The main objective of the Academic Early Warning System is to have professors identify students experiencing problems and to encourage them to utilize available academic and advising support services in order to overcome their difficulties. This warning is in lieu of a mid-semester grade.
The designated university courses include the following: A BIO 120, 121; A CHM 120, 121, 220, 221; A PSY 101, 210, 211; I CSI 101, 201; A SOC 115, 221; A ECO 110, 111; A MAT 101, 106, 108, 111, 112, 113; and B ACC 211, 222; A PHY 105, 108.
During the fifth week of the semester, this composite list of potential failures will be circulated to the academic advisers of these students so that they can encourage the following help: 1) conference with faculty member of particular course; 2) consultation with academic/faculty adviser; 3) participation in respective study group (all of the Academic Early Warning System courses are an integral part of the study group plan); and 4) involvement with an independent tutor. Also, a staff member from the Office of Academic Support Services will contact the students, advising them of their options.
Independent Tutoring Program
The Office of Academic Support Services provides the student community with an updated listing of academically successful students who are available to tutor students on a one-on-one basis. These independent tutors have taken the course in which they tutor and have received a B+ or higher. This independent tutor must have at least a 3.0 cumulative academic averages, secure faculty recommendations, pass the personal interview, and complete a tutoring orientation.
Faculty Mentoring Program
Matriculated students at the University at Albany are eligible to participate in one of the faculty mentoring programs. If enrolled in a program, it is expected that the student be willing to interact with a faculty or professional staff member in a mentoring partnership. University mentoring programs take many forms and address different groups including the following: Presidential Scholars; academic probationers; multicultural recruitment students; special talent admits; and other students, especially incoming freshmen seeking support. For a new freshman or a continuing student with academic needs, family or personal problems, the value of a trusted friend, confidante, guide, and role model is obvious. For mentors, a one-to-one relationship can be an opportunity to give another person the guidance and support they once received from their own mentors.
Mentoring is not an easy job; it is not a job quickly accomplished. Yet helping and guiding a young person may be the most important work a volunteer will ever do.
Study Skills Workshops
Study skills workshops are offered free of charge to all students, especially freshmen. These one-hour sessions provide an opportunity to acquire skills vital to achieving academic success. Titles of workshops include time management, textbook mastery, learning from lecture, memory enhancement, listening skills, examination preparation, examination strategies, multiple choice examination skills, and final exam preparation.
Educational Opportunities Program
Providing academic supportive assistance designed to increase the retention and graduation rates of 200 hundred low-income, first generation, or disabled students is the primary intent of the Project Excel Program. Funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Project Excel is a Student Support Services Program (A TRIO Program). Project Excel will strive to achieve its goal of a graduation rate of 70% of its participants by offering the following services: supplementary academic advisement, personal counseling, career planning, financial aid planning and information; peer mentoring; study skills workshops; support in writing and mathematics; tutoring; professional and graduate school speakers; graduate school application counseling; and field trips related to professional goals.
The mission of this program is to provide students from historically underrepresented groups (African-American, Latino, and Native American), low-income backgrounds, and first generation college students, with guidance and support to pursue professional degrees, licensed professions and PhD degrees in science and technology. The Collegiate Science Technology and Entry Program (CSTEP) seeks to recruit undergraduate students with majors in science and/or technology fields including, but not limited to, mathematics, chemistry, biology, pre-med, public health, physics, economics, information science, pre-engineering or computer science with a cumulative GPA of a 2.80 or higher. The program also seeks students who are interested in pursuing licensed professions like law, nursing, or pharmacy, degrees leading to a certification as a public accountant (CPA), and students interested in teaching mathematics or science.
CSTEP students are provided with many opportunities to aid in their success. Some of the benefits include:
- Career counseling
- Information about the application process for licensed professional degrees and Ph.D. programs
- Discounts on any preparatory graduate exam course (provided by KAPLAN) that they may take in order to prepare for GRE, MCAT, GMAT, OAT, LSAT, or PCAT
- Tutoring for all science courses
- Peer mentorship by upper classmen who have taken a majority of the pre-health curriculum
- Faculty research opportunities through the University at Albany Summer Research Program (UASRP)
Additionally, there are other programs available to assist CSTEP students with their goal of securing a degree from undergraduate through Ph.D.