The Academic Success Office, a department established in Aug. 2011 that consists of one employee – Advisor Brandon Jones – and a student worker, is arguably the university’s best-kept secret.
The Academic Success Office was the brainchild of a committee whose focus was on increasing the retention rate. It comes as no surprise that it is difficult for many students to maintain good grades and even to stay in school, especially as freshmen adjusting to college-level courses. The goal of the committee was to create a resource that would “help students anchor down and stay here,” Jones said.
The office, located in Augustine Hall, serves many purposes. Jones, who started in July when it first opened and first acted as a counselor in August, aims to improve students’ time management and study skills, assist them in their applications to graduate schools, advise them in an academic capacity, and provide social support. Part of his job includes teaching undergraduates how best to take advantage of the resources available to them.
“I am a resource and an ally,” Jones explained. Although not a primary academic advisor, he said he functions as a secondary counselor for those who have not yet declared a major.
However, he emphasized that he is “here for everybody, not just freshmen or students in trouble academically.”
He believes that there is a false perception that the department exists solely to aid those who are struggling.
Despite this misconception, the real problem is not the mistaken impression that some are not eligible to receive help. The issue is rather that a large percentage of the student body simply does not know the Academic Success Office exists.
In fact, as of Jan. 20, UD’s official website did not list where the office was located. Jones said, however, that they are “trying to get [the news] out there.”
He said that during the office’s first semester, last fall, roughly five to 10 students came to see him per week.
Altogether he “actively advised” approximately 30 to 35 people.
“The students that take advantage of the services the most benefit the most,” and the results can be “tremendous,” he said.
Word of mouth seems to be having an effect on the department’s popularity. Jones said he is already seeing an increase in traffic from last semester.
Perhaps because it is still a new department, the Academic Success Office has a very informal atmosphere. It consists of one room with a desk for one full-time employee and an open door. Students are encouraged to make appointments but are welcome to just walk into the office. Notwithstanding his modest surroundings, Jones said that he has high hopes for his advisees and anyone who comes for help.
“I want to help take students from good to great,” he said.