College Programs to Support Students with Learning Challenges: Project EXCEL

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In my last blog entry, we examined Bowling Green State University’s “FLY Program,” a fee-based academic coaching program designed to help students with learning challenges who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support. In today’s blog, we will look at our third of five special learning support programs now offered at Ohio colleges – and this one is really impressive.

Mount Saint Joseph University’s Project EXCEL is perhaps the oldest program of its type in the state and we were more than impressed with our visit. They serve students with learning differences including those with ADD, ADHD, and spectrum disorders. They also support students with accompanying mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression.

Formed in 1982 this unique, large, and successful program has stood the test of time, serving students for 37 years. Project EXCEL employs 17 professional tutors and all have been with the program for over 10 years. Each tutor focuses in areas in which they have expertise and they have access to all college course syllabi. Additionally, the tutors have access to course software supporting their student’s college courses so they can remain aware of progress and assignment completion. All tutors have earned at least a bachelor’s degree with many holding graduate degrees. The current director has been there since 1983. Current enrollment is 65 students and the program boasts a consistent 77% 6-year graduation rate – wow!

Enrolled students begin the program with a formal class taught by the Project EXCEL director. In the class they focus on time management, study skills, and how to best utilize the resources of the program. Project EXCEL is located in a large suite of offices and seems to operate more like a family than a structured service. They even offer students activities such as game night with pizza, Bingo, Halloween party, “Bread Day,” and other activities.

Services Include

  • Gateway course focusing on organization, study skills, self-advocacy, and how to best utilize the program
  • One hour of tutoring for each course each week (90 minutes for math courses)
  • Coordination with other university services including disability services (accommodations), career services, and counseling services.
  • Structured intervention to provide additional tutoring, organization, or time management support as needed
  • Pre-academic advising and advising coordination to ensure that students remain aware of their progress and make appropriate scheduling, course, and instructor selection choices.
  • Student Mail box in Project EXCEL office area
  • Mid-term progress reports
  • Representation for the student with the university “Care Committee” that works to ensure that students are connected to needed resources, programs, and activities.

 

Similar to other similar programs, Project EXCEL is a fee-based optional offering and costs an additional $1,800 per semester, which covers only 50% of actual costs.

Students apply for admission to Project EXCEL after achieving admission to the University. Most student applicants are accepted but must provide documentation related to their high school performance, a letter of recommendation, application form, ETR, and an interview.  Admitted students often have a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, ADD, ADHD, cochlear implant, or spectrum disorder. The ideal candidate is motivated to take advantage of academic support, has performed academically in the past, and can self-advocate.

Project EXCEL is impressive and should be investigated by families interested in identifying resources to support their student with learning challenges. Next week we will look at one another of the oldest and most established of these unique academic support programs. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Challenges: The FLY Program

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In my last blog entry, we examined Ohio Wesleyan University’s new “Bishop ACCESS Program,” a fee-based academic coaching program designed to help students with learning challenges who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support. In today’s blog, we will look at Bowling Green State University’s “FLY Program.”

BGSU’s FLY Program is only a few years old, but has grown rapidly. It assists students with learning differences and attention challenges while providing a supportive and structured academic environment. Students in the FLY Program work with a Learning Specialist one-on-one. The Learning Specialist provides academic coaching, accountability, and triage. The Learning Specialist may connect the student with other university services that he or she might need such as counseling or disability services. They additionally help students stay aware of grades, manage assignments, and exercise time management. They also coach students on how to activate accommodations as needed. The program is housed in the “Learning Commons” located in the University Library.

Services included:

  • 60 minutes of coaching per week with a dedicated Learning Specialist
  • One hour of focused tutoring for each enrolled course
  • Access to a writing coach, math coach, and research coach through BGSU’s “Learning Commons”
  • Bi-weekly e-mail or phone updates provided to parents with student permission
  • Ongoing workshop access on topics including test taking, motivation, organizational skills
  • Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
  • Secondary advising support

Similar to Ohio Wesleyan University’s Bishop ACCESS Program, the FLY Program is a fee-based optional offering and costs an additional $2,500 per semester. The program is currently working to design a “Level 2” option that would provide less services and cost around $1,200 per semester. Enrollment is currently 57 students and the FLY Program is excited to graduate its first class in 2020!

Students apply for admission to the FLY Program after achieving admission to the University and providing documentation (such as IPE and ETR) to the Disability Services Office. Admitted students often have a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or autism spectrum disorder. The ideal candidate is motivated to take advantage of academic support, has performed academically in the past, and can self-advocate. The program is not designed to support social skill development.

The FLY Program is impressive and should be investigated by families interested in identifying resources to support their student with learning challenges. Next week we will look at one of the oldest and most established of our unique academic support programs. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Challenges: Bishop ACCESS Program

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Parents of college students with learning challenges such as ADD, ADHD, or even light autism often find the traditional set of learning support offerings at most colleges to be insufficient to respond to their son or daughter’s needs. That is no longer the case in Ohio. Enter six unique, fee-based learning support programs that you should know about. My next six blog entries will help you better understand your options!

Let’s start with the newest offering in Ohio. Ohio Wesleyan University’s “Bishop ACCESS Program” is a fee-based academic coaching program to help students who need an additional level of academic and out-of-class support.  An assigned Academic Coach works one-on-one and in small groups with students to help them navigate university life, enhance study skills, and complete school work that requires planning, goal-setting, and managing time. Sessions begin the first week of classes and continue through the last day of classes for a total of 15 weeks a term. The program is housed in the Sagan Academic Resource Center.

Services include:

  • 60 minutes of coaching per week, as well as email and phone support
  • Individualized Success Plan (ISP)
  • Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI)
  • 4 hours of supervised study table per week with academic coaching and peer tutoring support
  • Workshops and final-exam support
  • Student Success Network
  • Communication with parents
  • Secondary advising support
  • End-of-semester student progress report

Bishop ACCESS is open to students with a primary diagnosis of a learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or autism spectrum disorder who wish to enhance executive functioning skills.

The ideal candidate for Bishop ACCESS has

  • the ability to be academically successful in college
  • age appropriate social and emotional maturity
  • a diagnosis of learning disability, attention deficit disorder, or learning difficulties.

The fee for this program is $2,000 per semester.  Students may enroll in the program for the fall semester or both fall and spring semesters.  A fee reduction may be available based on demonstrated financial need.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Ghostly Confession

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The Old Motherhouse                                                      The Old Chapel that later became “Our Lady’s Dorm”

During each of the two prior Halloween seasons I have featured a ghost story from Ohio Dominican University. I have appreciated the many e-mail comments I have received regarding these stories and thought I would offer one final reprisal this year. If you have not read the two prior stories, I encourage you to peruse the archives and check them out.

ODU is a small Catholic (Dominican) comprehensive university located in Columbus. Today, they offer not only a top-notch education, but a rich history including a few stories of things that go bump in the night. According to legend the spirits at ODU are thought to have been prior Dominican Sisters and faculty at the college.

This story was described by a Dominican Sister Mary Michael and took place in the first “Motherhouse,” which was constructed in 1875. It was later attached to the west side of the college’s dining hall until it (the Motherhouse) was torn down in 1970 (see the picture above). The Motherhouse was the centerpiece of living and activity for the Sisters of Saint Many of the Springs at the time.

The story takes place in the summer of 1947 in “Our Lady’s Dorm,” as it was called then.
The room was a large dormitory, subdivided by curtains into individual spaces for each sister. Each space contained a bed, washstand, and a chair. The Sister’s space was west of a double door that provided entry into the dormitory area. On this particular evening there were only two sisters in the dormitory. All the sisters had heard rumors of ghosts in the building and while Sister Mary had heard these stories, she had never encountered anything herself.  At some time during the night Sister Mary awoke feeling very cold. She thought about getting a cloak as a cover, but then heard footsteps of someone walking the east-west corridor. This was unusual as rules prohibited walking around at night and enforced silence in the area. The pacing started at around 3:00 AM and continued until the corridor had been paced in its entire length a total of 20-30 times. Sister Mary was too scared to look out. Finally, the pacing stopped at the end of the interior hall away from the entry and near a closet. Finally, after waiting awhile and gaining courage, Sister Mary Michael rose and fled the room.

Upon reflection, Sister Mary recalled that our Lady’s Dorm had been the Motherhouse chapel before the new chapel had been built. The closet had originally been a confessional in the old chapel. Sister Mary Michael wondered if perhaps the footsteps belonged to the spirit of a Sister who felt the need for penitence and sought it in a familiar place.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: Kenyon’s Ghost Train

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Some college ghost stories emerge out of fictional accounts, but others are born out of real campus tragedies. This story is one of the latter.

Around 9:41 pm on October 28, 1905, a freshman, Stuart Lathrop Pierson, was struck by an unannounced train traveling next to the Kokosing River adjacent to the Kenyon College campus. He was killed instantly. Pierson, a Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge, was participating in a fraternity initiation at the time. Some contend that he had been bound to the tracks and blindfolded, however authorities later concluded that he had been directed to the railroad bridge by his fraternity brothers and asked to stay there until retrieved. Members claimed that the experience was intended as an opportunity for him to contemplate his impending membership. Unfortunately, the surprise of an unexpected oncoming train in the darkness caused Pearson to stumble into harm’s way. Pierson’s death launched a dark and challenging chapter in the history of Kenyon College. Administrators point out that over time the college recovered and was able to put this tragedy behind them, however many students believe Pierson is still hoping to complete his initiation.

If you visit Kenyon College today, you will find that the railroad bridge where Pierson was struck and killed has been transformed into a bike trail. The tracks were long ago covered over with asphalt. Each year the DKEs mark the anniversary of Pierson’s death with a ceremony. Reportedly, they carry a coffin filled with stones down Middle Path and gather at the fateful trestle bridge where fraternity officers read the coroner’s report by torchlight. In recent years they also read passages aloud from Fred Kluge’s Alma Mater. The ceremony ends with the burning of a wooden DKE sign, which they extinguish in the river, leaving its ashes behind on the bike trail covering the old train tracks.

Some say that on those evenings, as they hike back to campus, they still hear the whistle of a train in the distance. But that’s not all – residents of Old Kenyon residence hall claim Pierson can still be seen staring out the window on the fourth floor. Doors open and close and footsteps are heard coming from empty rooms.

So, if you ever visit Kenyon college around Halloween, be sure to enjoy the changing leaves and beautiful campus. As the sun sets listen carefully and you might hear the sound of a mournful train whistle passing over a nearby bridge. Then, as you walk by Old Kenyon, the oldest residence hall in Ohio, glance over your shoulder and check out the fourth-floor window. The spirit of a former Kenyon student may grace you with his presence.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges: The Oxford Light

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The Oxford Light

If you ask students at Miami University about the “Oxford Light” or the “Phantom Motorcyclist” expect to get an earful. The legend has been around since the 40’s and continues to enthrall students to this day.

The story involves a farmer, his daughter, and her boyfriend. While there are several versions of the story, all have a bit of a “Romeo and Juliet” feel to them. You see, the farmer’s daughter was in love with her boyfriend, who was considered a bit of a rebel. He rode a loud motorcycle, was not fond of authority, and generally didn’t engender affection from any in the community save his girlfriend. In fact, the farmer did what he could to discourage the romance. The result was that the boyfriend was forced to visit his girlfriend late at night and early in the morning while others slept. Legend has it that the father discovered the late-night romance and tried to put a stop to it. The couple, determined to continue to see each other, set up a secret signal. She was to flash the porch light three times to signal her boyfriend that it is safe for him to come by and pick her up.

Finally one evening the boyfriend, determined to finally propose, awaited her signal. Upon seeing the porchlight flash three times, he got on his motorcycle and sped down the road toward her house. Unfortunately, on the way, he lost control of his bike, careened into a barbwire fence and was decapitated.

I’m sure you guessed it – that’s not the end of the story. It seems that death did not deter the cyclist and that today, he is still trying to reach his girlfriend’s house and pop the question. So, if you are visiting Oxford this time of year consider travelling past Millet Hall and Yager Stadium, out past the University property, past Beta Headquarters on the left, and up to the first four-way stop. The girlfriend’s old Earhart Road home is just around the corner. Park your car, flash your lights three times, and wait to see the Oxford Light in the distance. Happy Halloween.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

They’re Back……Ghost Stories from Ohio’s Colleges

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Well, it is once again time for us to put on a sweater and gather around the campfire for a few of the many ghost stories from Ohio’s great colleges. This will be the third year in our series, “Ohio’s Haunted Colleges,” and is our most popular blog series! If you want to catch up, check out our prior year’s offerings archived in our blog.

This year we will offer three new stories including the story of Kenyon College’s Pierson’s Ghost: the spirit of a student killed on a nearby train trestle under mysterious circumstances.  We will also visit Oxford, Ohio, the home of Miami University, and discuss the Ghostly Cyclist who returns to the road he died on and responds to students who know the secret code. Finally, we will learn about the penitent ghost on Ohio Dominican University’s campus.

So, pull up next to the fire and prepare for this season’s offerings from Ohio’s haunted colleges.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

Four things that might surprise you about Antioch College

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With over 60 small, historically liberal arts colleges, Ohio offers a wide variety of options to students seeking an undergraduate residential college experience. Our visit last week to Antioch College in the village of Yellow Springs is one of the most unique options. Here’s some things that might surprise you!

  1. Antioch College is not for everyone. In fact, it would be a nice fit for only a small segment of the aspiring college student population However, for those who might be called to Antioch College, there is no other comparable institution or college experience. At Antioch there are no fraternities or sororities, no varsity athletics, and NO flying under the radar. With under 250 students, Antioch College is a small campus community located in a small rural town and everyone knows everyone. Students are, for the most part, politically liberal and committed to racial equality, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and social justice. They also tend to be independent thinkers who want a “say so” in the design of their college education.
  2. The objective of an Antioch College education is to prepare students for lives of significance, service, and citizenship. In everything it does, Antioch exudes the words of its first president, Horace Mann: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” From international coop experiences to self-designed majors to campus life policies that are determined by committees of students, staff, and community members, Antioch lives its mission. Democracy and shared governance, especially as a means to activism and social justice, are at the heart of Antioch College.
  3. Academics are unique. Antioch’s small but capable faculty helps many students craft their own unique major integrating varied interests into their popular “Self-designed Major.” Students may also select from a short list of only 13 liberal arts major options which can be tailored to respond to the unique interests and objectives of each student. The most popular majors are Media Arts, Environmental Studies, and Political Economy. Also, Antioch is the only college in the country to require four quarters of off-campus coop work experience for all students. Students alternate two quarters on campus and one off. Most students complete at least one international coop during their time at Antioch.
  4. Like a Phoenix, Antioch College rose from the ashes of financial difficulty. Formed in 1850, and after many years of growth and financial stability, Antioch came on financial hard times toward the end of the 20th  century. They failed in 2008 and, with alumni support, reopened in 2011. Now, fully re-accredited and in re-building mode, Antioch is redesigning their future and looking for students who want to be a part of the journey. Today, Antioch students feel responsible for their education and responsible for Antioch College.

So, does an Antioch education work? According to Loren Pope, author of Colleges that Change Lives, “There is no university in the country that makes a more profound difference in a young person’s life, or that creates more effective adults” than does Antioch College. Interested? Schedule a campus visit and see for yourself!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

The Difference Between the College Fit Process and the College Admissions Process

By | College Fit, Our Book: Field Guide to Ohio's Best Colleges, Picking a Major that Fits | No Comments

My consulting practice, while addressing family’s college admissions questions, focuses primarily on helping families optimize college fit. So, what’s the difference?

The college admissions process focuses on the tasks related to gaining admission to college – completing applications, preparing for the ACT, writing the college essay, applying for financial aid, completing the FAFSA, using the Common Application, determining application status (early admission, early decision, etc.) and a myriad of other things. As a result of the time sensitivity of the tasks involved, the admissions process is where parents and high school counselors typically focus most of their attention, energy, and resources. In fact, most college consultants focus on optimizing this process as most previously served on college admissions staffs themselves – they help students gain admission to selective, “big brand,” colleges.

In contrast, the college fit process focuses on the strategic aspects of the college search process including identifying and exploring good fit majors, student organizations, and colleges to explore. It begins by systematically clarifying everything you want in a college, including cost, and then matching your list to colleges that are good at all the things you want. It continues when families orchestrate strategic campus visits allowing students to explore good fit colleges, major options, and potential student organization/activity involvements. It culminates in a final, informed, college choice. This is where we focus our attention when working with clients. In contrast to admissions process consultants who spent their formative years as admissions counselors, our college fit consultants are prior faculty members and academic advisors.

The difference between the college admissions process and the college fit process can be compared to the difference between the tax return filing process and the financial planning process. Filing a tax return, similar to gaining college admission, is a task-focused and time sensitive process and everyone has to complete it. It is fraught with forms, deadlines, and requires compliance with established processes and procedures.

In contrast, financial planning and college fit are more strategic processes. They are NOT governed by deadlines, task lists, or compliance requirements.  The focus is more on the identification of options, exploration, and planning. Unlike filing a tax return which everyone does, many people choose not to financial plan in a way similar to how they choose not to plan for college fit. In either case the result can range from sub-optimal to catastrophic.

What is the real value of gaining admission to a college that doesn’t have everything you want, costs more than you can afford, or fails to offer the academic programs or academic support that you need? Is it really a good idea to assume that once your student gets to college that they will “figure out” what they want to major in or might find interesting? At what point does changing majors become problematic or too expensive? Is it reasonable to assume that your student will understand all available campus life options, real difference between colleges, or the implications of sizeable student loans? We encourage parents to lift their focus from the attention-grabbing and time-consuming college admissions process to include the aspects of college choice related to why you are going through the admissions process in the first place.

Our practice, as well as our new book, “Field Guide to Ohio’s Best Colleges” focuses on the often-neglected college fit process. We hope you will too.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

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