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Meta Centers are at the Center of the Integrated Student Experience

Submitted by on March 12, 2018 – 4:28 pm

Sarah Tavitian of Bradford (right) a business transfer major, gets tutoring help from Ana Barahona of Lawrence a business management: health care option major(left) who mentors in the business accounting meta center on the Haverhill campus.

Creating a strong and welcoming academic pathway and helping students stay on it is at the center of Northern Essex’s newest initiative.

Northern Essex Community College is in the process of adopting and implementing a new “integrated student experience” designed to give its students a holistic approach to their education. The program was rolled out during the Spring convocation.

Here’s how it works. Students who enroll at Northern Essex are first introduced to a Center for Student Success. There, the staff will assist new and undeclared students to acclimate to the college and through career exploration help them choose an academic pathway. The Center also serves as the headquarters of all student support services and students’ “first home” at the college.  Once students choose an academic pathway, they will transition from the Center for Student Success to a Meta Major Center that serves as their “permanent home” at the college.

Jordan Simmons of Salisbury, a business transfer student visits the business and accounting meta center in the Spurk Building every day.

There will be a Meta Major Center for each of five broad academic clusters – Business, Health Professions, Liberal Arts, Professional Studies, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Each center will be staffed by faculty who teach that subject and a variety of support services. There will be Meta Major Centers on both the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses.

These centers will be designated spaces which serve as venues for guest speakers, social events, study groups and cohort building. A Business and Accounting Center is already operating in the Spurk Building on the Haverhill campus.

Sarah Tavitian of Bradford, a business transfer major says she visits the Business and Accounting Center for the tutoring, the snacks, and the availability of her professors.

In addition, she says, “It’s easy to make friends with like-minded students,”

Jordan Simmons of Salisbury said she visits the business and accounting center every day. Some days she mentors or tutors other business and accounting students struggling with a concept and other days she just focuses on her own homework.

Through the integrated student experience, Northern Essex hopes to give the students like Sarah and Jordan a greater sense of belonging to the college community, promote resilience, introduce more structure, and keep them on their educational path.

Once in a program, students will be given faculty created pathways that outline exactly which classes should be taken which semester to minimize the accumulation of credits that do not contribute to a credential. All prerequisites will be outlined so there will be no surprises for the student.

In addition to keeping the student on track another positive will be less “silo thinking” among the college’s employees.  Faculty and staff will each work together in both the Center for Student Success and the Meta Major Centers.  This will allow more attention from everyone to the student’s entire educational journey. Through the centers faculty and staff from advising, financial aid, career services, etc., will better be able to work together to help students reach their goals.