Scaling the Heights: Northeast Helps Students Achieve, Professionally and Personally
As every Northeast College of Health Sciences student knows, the College's Doctor of Chiropractic program can be a challenge to successfully manage. In fact, students need to work hard to stay on top of things.
Students can sometimes feel overwhelmed by their course load, since taking 24 or 26 credits in 15 weeks is a great and ambitious opportunity.
And yet: as each year's commencement ceremonies attest, Northeast students regularly conquer any academic and personal challenges to graduate with honors, ready to provide outstanding patient care and assume leadership roles in their communities -- and beyond.
At least part of the credit for that goes to the College’s student services team, whose mission is to empower students to rise to meet the issues that every college student must face, through counseling, strategies for improved learning, and more.
Meeting Them Where They Live
It begins by letting students know that the College has resources ready to help them. "We know from research is that often the students who need the support the most are also the most reluctant to seek it out," said one staff member. "So we need to help them understand that it's okay."
One way that happens is by going into the classroom to be sure students know about the opportunities for support that are available to them. Student services professionals sit in on several sessions of a first-trimester course on professionalism so they can provide all students with an overview of resources, including research to help students apply science-tested strategies to their own learning experiences.
But the help doesn't stop there. Staff receive reports on midterm and final grades as well as ongoing grade point averages (GPA). If a student's GPA dips below 2.5 (out of 4.0), College staff are ready to provide support in areas such as time management, academic coaching or help with a personal issue. The student services team can even refer students to a counselor, who will work with the student as long as needed to solve the problem. And if the issue is academic, students can access the College's extensive tutor corps.
Tutoring & Counseling
Northeast's tutoring approach is individualized: each student receives help based on where they are and what they need to achieve to take their education to the next level. "If we can help a student move from a C to a B, or improve their exam scores from the midterm to final we're doing great work," says a member of the student services staff. "An estimated 60 to 70 percent of the student body utilize some form of tutoring. There are also small group tutoring sessions, and individual tutoring that is utilized by 25 to 40 percent of Northeast students.
Intriguingly, there's another benefit to tutoring -- for the tutors themselves. Anecdotal evidence shows that the College's tutors tend to score higher on national board exams in the subjects in which they tutor others.
The Science of Learning
Of course, the College is careful to ensure that anecdotal evidence of success is only one metric to be considered. Northeast measures success in two ways: by tracking data from the students who have gotten tutoring or other assistance, while keeping a keen eye on their progress; and by talking to the faculty on a regular basis.
Faculty work closely with student services staff. Tutors may meet with faculty members regarding the work of individual students if needed. The staff also touch base regularly with faculty to find out how their services are working in terms of learning strategy support, coaching, and the tutoring program.
Staff members use a foundational framework is based on Bloom's Taxonomy, a hierarchical plan for ordering cognitive skills that is used by educators to plan learning objectives and curriculum. The goal is to have students understand it and to see how they can move their way up to the top of the pyramid.
Staff also use something called Self Theory, which is related to the perceptions we all have of our self. Thompson believes this is an important concept for younger learners, the so-called Millennials and Generation Z, who make up much of the current Northeast student body.
"We know this generation puts so much pressure on the outcome, and if that outcome doesn't come right away, they're more likely to give up," said student services team members. "But when we can help them see themselves in a growth mindset, asking for help from the faculty, going to tutoring, or reaching out to me and our counselors, it's good, because healthy people ask for help when they need it."
The Importance of Self-Care
But excelling at coursework is not the only area where the student services team has an impact on the student body -- its support extends to the personal arena as well. For some students, ironically, that means spending less time studying.
The College stresses self-care in all their sessions with students. Self-care is an important consideration for students, who need time to recharge their batteries. Whether it's by going for a walk, reading, writing poetry, or some other leisure activity, students need to engage in things that refresh them and allow them to come back to their studies with a clear mind. And because of Northeast's prime location overlooking Cayuga Lake, in the heart of New York State's Finger Lakes region, students are able to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor and nature-based activities to help them keep clear, healthy, and on-focus.
Whether it's personal or professional, academic or life skills, the College's staff and faculty work tirelessly to ensure that Northeast's students are supported in any way they might need. It comes down to remembering that each student made a conscious choice to become a medical professional for a reason.
"When times get tough, we want to remind them of why they're here; to ask them how good and passionate and knowledgeable of a doctor they want to be; and what's required to make that happen. Then we look at the obstacles that might get in the way of that, and our office helps them negotiate those obstacles."