A Door That’s Always Open

Elissa Sanci

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At the doorway of Maxcy 210A, a long and narrow hallway leads to an area of Maxcy Hall that, according to Samantha Palombizio, is an underutilized center on campus. The end of the hallway opens up to a comfortable office space—comfy chairs next to small tables overflowing with bowls of candy sit in the waiting area where students are welcome to sit until their meeting, which takes place in one of six cozy offices. The Academic Success Center strives to make their space a friendly and comfortable area and that’s something they’ve done since their birth in 2013.

The Academic Success Center, formally the Office of Academic Services, provides a range of academic support to all students, including part-time students and grad students. The office offers help to anyone who asks, and a staff of six Academic Success Counselors who can be described as nothing less than helpful welcomes students.

The counselors seek to cut down on what Palombizio, one of the six counselors, calls the “campus run-around.” Instead of shuttling from office to office in search of an answer to what is probably an easy question, students can go straight to the ASC, which typically has the answer, or will do the research and reach out to other departments around campus to help procure the answer.

“We help facilitate resolution in such a way that you’re less stressed,” she said. “So sometimes it can be difficult for students to take care of all of their academic obligations and take care of the paperwork component of being a college student. We make it a priority to know as much as possible about UNH’s policies and procedures, and we can answer a lot of general questions.”

She added that if there’s a situation where the student has a question that the counselors themselves are unable to answer, they will at least know who to contact for the answer. “At the very most, after leaving the Academic Success Center, they’ll have to go to only one place or one other person to find their answer.”

Students who use the ASC appreciate how helpful the staff is. Ashley Lopez, who has been using the Center since the beginning of her sophomore year, cites the people who work at the center as her favorite part about the Center.

“They really do care; they are always warm and inviting, and keep a personal, open environment to make anyone feel comfortable,” Lopez said. “They give you the attention you need in order to better your experience here at UNH; you won’t be just a name or number on their list.”

Palombizio feels that the ASC is shrouded with the negative reputation left behind by the Office of Academic Services. What was once a place that largely worked with students who were on probation and having academic difficulty has now become a place to seek academic advice and clarity, but not many students have made this connection.

“We used to primarily work with students who were on academic probation,” Palombizio said. “We still work with students on academic probation, however, we’ve made it a big priority to serve as many UNH students as possible, so we’ve really transitioned into being more of a upper classmen version of the First Year Success Center.”

Helena Cole, who joined the UNH staff two and half years ago, helped the center grow to what it is now.

“They wanted me to take the office and turn it into more of an advising center that worked with students on advising issues,” Cole, who is the Director of the Academic Success Center, said.

“The FYSC was doing a really great job, but then we said ‘we should really do something like this for student’s beyond their first year.’ We wanted a second office that worked with sophomores, juniors and seniors that worked much like the FYSC to help navigate.”

Cole leads both the Center of Academic Success and Advising and the Academic Success Center. Under the COSA umbrella falls the Academic Success Center, the First Year Success Center and the Center for Learning Resources.

“What we really should be doing is helping students before they get on probation,” Cole said. “So why are we waiting for them to get on probation? Why don’t we create an office to reduce the number of students who go on probation in the first place?”

And thus, the Academic Success Center was born.

The center, which is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., sponsors a number of programs throughout the school year. “Sophomore Year Experience,” a program created by ASC Counselor Lynn DeRobertis, is specific to sophomores. This program was designed to help sophomores climb out of their “Sophomore Slump” by encouraging them to “take their UNH experience to the next level.” For example, the program helps sophomore students by encouraging them to look for leadership opportunities on campus, add a minor or change a major, or look into studying abroad.

“I’m not exactly sure why people don’t know about us,” Palombizio said, citing lack of exposure as the center’s biggest problem. “People come in here and they leave their appointment saying ‘Thank you so much, you were so helpful; I wish I knew about this sooner.”

Students use the Center for a myriad of inquiries. “I go to the Success Center for almost everything,” Lopez said, “from picking out my courses for the upcoming semester to any questions or problems I may encounter with individual classes. I also seek the Center out when I need more resources during exam and stressful times throughout the school year, with either academics or social life management.”

Palombizio believes that the students who use the ASC appreciate having someone other than a parent or a professor to talk to and look to for advice. As she put it, students like having a nice person that’s “going to keep it real, but won’t judge” to rely on.

Nile Walker, a junior music and sound recording major, believes that ASC is a very vital part of campus. “I believe it’s very important to have a foundation with those individuals behind the scenes of your academic career because you never know how much that foundation can be needed,” he said.

“I never knew that I would have to meet regularly with a counselor to make sure that my head stayed on straight but that was something I learned about myself through the Academic Student Center; the staff is there to help you and they will always do it the best of their ability no matter what the conflict may be. I’m very grateful to have that outlet.”

Walker, who has been frequenting the ASC since his freshmen year, said the counselors are like “the big brothers and sisters that you run to when the school bully starts picking on you.”

“Our doors are totally open, and the counselors are the most happy when there’s a student in our offices,” Palombizio said. “That’s our favorite part of the job—it’s meeting up with the students.”

1 Comment

One Response to “A Door That’s Always Open”

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A Door That’s Always Open