Caring for the One
Editor’s note: Donations to LDS Business College are often used to help those who may not thrive in a traditional university environment. Among those who attend LDS Business College, many are the first in their family to attend college.
In the realm of higher education, where the challenges are often great and the resources scarce, LDS Business College continues to garner national attention for its ability to help students succeed.
Two recent awards highlight the school’s ability to, first, simplify the process of attending school, and, second and more importantly, help students succeed with better personal attention through mentoring.
The “Model of Efficiency” awards, created by University Business magazine, recognize innovative ways for streamlining higher education through technology and business processes. LDS Business College was one of seven colleges and universities honored nationwide this year. The College was awarded two of the eight awards given: one for its consolidation of services, and another for its early intervention program for at-risk students.
Some at-risk students haven’t learned how to learn, and consequently, have not tasted the joy of learning, noted Adrian Juchau, director of LDS Business College’s Student Development Center.
Historically, the school has suffered low retention rates between semesters for students on academic probation. They drop out for various reasons, Juchau noted. Some face challenges in their personal life such as language barriers or perhaps finances. Whatever the reason, he continued, they fall behind and soon they receive notices of academic probation.
Not knowing where to turn for assistance, they simply stop attending, often drawing the wrong conclusion about their ability to learn.
“Our attitude is that parents have entrusted their children to us for a season and we wish to honor that trust by helping them succeed, or, as is stated in Greek mythology, to ‘cultivate the royalty within.’”
Two services implemented
Instead of banishing students to academic probation to flounder on their own, the College implemented two important services. First, they consolidated all student services into one department called Student Development Services, where students can receive all forms of guidance and advisement in one place. Whereas once students waited for days to see a counselor, now 95 percent of students have issues resolved almost immediately.
Second, the College began monitoring student progress, hoping to detect a challenge before it erupted into a crisis. They watch for factors that indicate a risk. Sometimes teachers see challenges in class and send referrals.
When necessary, students are assigned to senior missionaries who serve as mentors. With a grandparent-like kindness, these senior missionaries teach life skills such as personal discipline and organization, which are sometimes new concepts for students.
Students may also receive specialized tutoring from fellow students, professionals or senior missionaries. Silver-haired missionaries are often seen waiting in the foyer of the Student Development Center eagerly awaiting their next student. The “U” shape of the center and the friendliness of the student aides are intentionally designed to help students feel accepted when they enter. The whole setting creates a climate of calm and hope where students can recharge and recalibrate.
They often leave feeling much relieved with new direction and optimism, said Juchau.
The weekly visits with a counselor often turn into moments of celebration as students share their joy at passing tests or showing proficiency in their studies. Whereas once they feared learning and constantly dreaded yet another failure, some now emerge pumping their fists in the air in jubilation. In the process, senior missionaries help students become involved in the school as they make friends and participate in fun activities.
LDS Business College has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment since instituting these procedures. Now, about 75 percent of students listed on academic probation return for the next semester, compared to a mere 50 percent in previous years. And the figures are improving.
Students are much like the butterfly in the Carl Bloch painting of the “Sermon on the Mount,” noted Juchau, referring to a favorite art piece that hangs on the wall of the student center that fitfully describes the work of the College.
Pointing to a butterfly in a less visible area of the painting, Juchau noted how the butterfly was once a caterpillar that underwent a great transformation to become something very different from its simple beginning, something that is delightful in its beauty and graceful in its motions.
Students can learn when they are willing to accept challenges and receive guidance, Juchau said. “They are God’s children with the capacity to become like Him.”
The great matter facing the student center now, continued Juchau, is enlisting additional volunteers who can assist in the giving of time and talent to mentor more students.