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Student Support Services
The institution recruits and admits diverse students who are able to benefit from its programs, consistent with its mission. Student support services address the identified needs of students and enhance a supportive learning environment. The entire student pathway through the institutional experience is characterized by a concern for student access, progress, learning, and success. The institution systematically assesses student support services using student learning outcomes, faculty and staff input, and other appropriate measure in order to improve the effectiveness of these services.
II.B.1. The institution assures the quality of student support services and demonstrates that these services, regardless of location or means of delivery, support student learning and enhance achievement of the mission of the institution.
Consistent with its mission, the college provides quality student services to support student learning and achievement. The college Student Support Services provide support for a diverse set of disciplines, learning approaches and teaching methods; this includes support for high school students, students with disabilities, those requiring basic skills, and students seeking associate degrees, certificates, occupational licenses, transfer, and job advancement. The college provides these comprehensive services regardless of location or means of delivery.
Since the last accreditation, the college has revised and expanded the delivery of support services to students based on changes in student input, student demographics and available new technology. College demographics in fall 2003 include the following: 46.9 percent white; 29.65 percent 19 years old or younger; 57.27 percent female; 68.46 percent attending during the day; 35.97 percent full-time (IIB-1).
Student Services offers programs to support the changes in demographic trends that include a growing Hispanic population, an increase in students younger than 19, an increase in female students, and an increase in students identifying AA/AS and transfer as their primary goal. County figures also indicate that the largely Hispanic population in the Santa Clara Valley , east of the college, is the fastest growing area in Ventura College 's primary service area (IIB-2).
Student Services has made a commitment to support the major college strategic planning priorities in three ways. First, the college will provide increased programs and services to the East Campus in Santa Paula (IIB-2). To ensure that this student population receives quality services, the Student Services staff has been actively involved in the discussion, planning, and implementation of new and/or expanded services to the East Campus.
Services at the East Campus Center have been expanded to include regular staff visits from Financial Aid, the Educational Assistance Center (EAC), and the Student Health Center (SHC). A bilingual Admissions and Records clerk, hired to assist with registration, acts as a liaison between the Center and the main campus, assists in the handling of all residency determinations, and provides better accountability for the collection of college fees. Weekly hours for bilingual general counseling, as well as general assessment and orientation, have doubled. Plans are in place to create an Internet Café and expand library services at the East Campus.
The college has received two grants instrumental in strengthening programs and services to the East Campus Center . The federal Title 5 and the Engaging the Latino Community for Education (ENLACE) grants provide recruitment and increase the percent of high-risk, primarily Hispanic, students enrolling and staying in college (IIB-3, IIB1-4 ). Through these grants, the college hired counseling assistants to work with at-risk high school and middle school students and their families. This project has included special meetings with bilingual staff and prospective students, along with their families, to give information on the value and feasibility of attending college. For example, recruitment and service targeted one small community, Rancho Sespe, where 90 percent of the families meet the federal poverty index for receipt of free meals (IIB-4). The ENLACE grant also funded a computer lab at Rancho Sespe.
Student Services supports collegewide planning initiatives with development and expansion of distance education and the use of new technology (IIB-2). The college has used new technology to improve access for students enrolled at both the East Campus and main campus. Online services, including an application process, registration, applications for financial aid, college catalog and class schedule, provide 24-hour access to students. In addition, students use their secure student I.D. number or social security number to add and drop classes, review their transcripts, and view their grades though the Student Central application on the college's Web site.
The online system also offers students tools to select their classes. The new Student Central Program allows students to search classes by department, start time, and/or specific teaching faculty.
The districtwide Banner Student Priorities district committee assumes quality control for these student services . Since its inception, the Ventura College Student Services staff has taken a leadership role in the committee for the implementation of the new system. Working with consultants, the staff modified student applications for both Instruction and Student Services while developing training materials and facilitating user training. The committee meets monthly with the district Information Technology (IT) staff to test all new versions of Banner, report problems, and prioritize needed improvements. Committee members have also been instrumental in providing on-site support for users. System problems, identified through the interaction of students with the Admissions and Records staff, are referred to the Banner Student Priorities Committee.
The Administrative Council has reviewed district reports showing that 67 percent of Ventura College students use Web service. Compared to the district's other two colleges, Ventura College has a lower percentage registering online (IIB-5). Concerned that students might lack Internet access, the Council responded by developing the Ventura College Internet Café in spring 2002. The Associated Students of Ventura College (ASVC) have since taken responsibility for overseeing the Café, which provides 15 stations for students to access both the Web and computerized college services and information. For two weeks each semester, it is dedicated for online registration. Trained students and staff assist during the registration period. Given its location in the college cafeteria, the Internet Café is highly visible and has become an important part of campus culture.
Student Services has also contributed to the growth of distance education through the development of three online guidance classes: Discovering the Right Career, College Orientation, and College Orientation and Survival Training (COAST). Open to all students, the classes are designed to provide career education for Middle College , high school, off-campus and distance education students.
Ventura College also uses technology to improve access for students with disabilities. The college hired a full-time alternative media specialist to assist faculty and staff in the development of student service and educational materials; the specialist also ensures quality and accessibility of materials and information to disabled students, including textbooks, brochures, video and audiotapes, computerized classrooms and distance learning classes. The media specialist regularly evaluates all services on the Web site to ensure that they meet appropriate access standards.
Development of a one- stop Student Service area for students represents a third initiative in the College Master Plan (IIB-6). The college will begin remodeling the old library in the fall of 2004. This project will bring together Admissions and Records, the Student Business Office, Counseling, the Transfer and Career Centers and the Assessment Center . The lower level of the CR building will be remodeled for the Student Health Office. Space vacated in the Administration Building will be used to improve facilities for the Educational Assistance Center (EAC). The Extended Opportunities Programs and Services (EOPS/CARE) will gain space when Financial Aid is moved to the old Transfer and Career Center .
The college has responded to changing demographics by developing the Middle College Academy , which supports the community's interest in expanding college access for high school students . The college received a Middle College High School Program Grant that led to the creation of the Middle College Program in the spring of 2000. The program began with an agreement between Ventura College and Foothill Technology High School to offer special services encouraging enrollment of high school students in college level classes. Working together, the schools identified special activities to maximize the success of high school students. Student services tailored for the Middle College include orientations with students and parents, special assessment sessions, additional counseling hours, a new college survival class, a textbook program, an online guidance class, and course planning guides for specific vocational programs.
The Middle College Academy has grown to about 200 students, including students from non-traditional high schools such as the local continuation high school and the high school district's independent study school. Regular feedback is obtained from the part-time counselor who makes frequent visits to all of the participating high school campuses and from the Middle College Advisory Committee. Each semester, the Middle College Advisory Committee reviews student progress.
The college provides and maintains student support services that assist student learning and enhance the achievement of its mission. The Transfer and Career Centers hosts the annual Transfer Day and assists with applications, workshops, meetings with university representatives, and field trips (IIB-7). In addition to workshops and inventory tests, the Career Center offers on-site and online programs to assist students' research of career goals, and an annual Career Day. Among other activities, the Re-entry and Women's Center provides peer support, workshops, and textbook loan services.
The college's Child Development Center Program provides parents with high quality child day care. The Center also supports the Child Development instructional program by serving as a laboratory school. Each semester, students conduct approximately 200 observations. The Center has recently received outside funding to expand its services to low income parents.
The Student Health Center (SHC) provides general medical care, personal psychological counseling, and other specialized services such as dermatology. The Center has received grants that have allowed it to increase its wellness education, including programs targeting smoking, communicable diseases control, women's health issues, and so on. Since the last self study , due to high student demand, the SHC and the Re-entry and Women's Center have significantly increased consulting hours for personal and psychological counseling . A Crisis Intervention Team, created in 2002, is coordinated through the Student Health Center (IIB-8).
Academic counseling is addressed in II.B.3.c. Other student support services include the College's EOPS/CARE Program, EAC, CalWORKs, Financial Aid, and the International Students Office, which provides the college's approximately 150 international students with information and support related to documentation, fast-changing immigration regulations, visas, and student insurance.
The Educational Assistance Center provides strong support for students with disabilities, including tutors, interpreters, Amigos (for transportation around campus) and a computer lab with adaptive equipment. The Center has played a vital role in increasing access to services for students with disabilities. The EAC has provided assistive computer technology in classrooms and computer labs. Assistive computers and stations have also been placed in many student service areas, such as Counseling, and the Transfer and Career Centers . The introduction of Text Teletypewriters (TTY's) in several pay phones, in Admissions and Records, and at the campus police office has improved access for students with hearing disabilities. The EAC receives feedback on student needs from its advisory committee, which includes faculty, community members and students. The EAC is discussing ways to improve access to employment services. The Center's staff includes assessment specialists, academic counselors, and faculty who teach learning skills classes. It is one of the college's best examples of integrating instructional and student services components.
The college is committed to providing quality service to students. Student Service programs actively participate in the college's program review process. In 2002, Student Services staff took a leadership role in adapting forms from the instructional program review to meet the needs of its programs. Under the revised process, eight of the 11 Student Services areas have completed program review: Career Center , Counseling, EAC, EOPS, Matriculation, Re-Entry and Women's Center, Student Health Center and the Assessment Center .
The college is proud of its response to the changing needs of students through its expansion of services to the East Campus Center, development of the Middle College Academy, revision of service information on the college Web site, increased student access to services via new online services and the Internet Café, and its plans for restructuring facilities. These changes improve student support regardless of where, when or how students attend the college.
The college has improved its ability to assess the quality of student support services and evaluate their effect on student learning and the achievement of its mission. Student Services uses the changing demographics of its students and the community as part of program review. As part of the Council for Institutional Development (CID), S tudent Services participates in campuswide discussions on national and regional changes in higher education. Student Services also responds to the districtwide student perception surveys and conducts its own specialized surveys, and has benefited from college research on student success (IIB-9) .
Student Services has used focus groups to obtain community feedback on its recruitment materials, and student feedback on its student services information. It needs to explore how focus groups could improve program reviews of specific student service programs; the college needs to explore the possibility of using student focus groups to find out what students know about student services.
While the college does not have its own researcher, it has benefited from districtwide student and staff perception surveys. The validity of the surveys has been helpful in that the survey population reflects the college's student body, making the data useful in measuring general student perceptions over time. However, the general nature of the survey has limited the helpfulness of the data to determine needed changes within specific student service programs. Student Services was very concerned with the overall drop in student satisfaction as measured by the spring 2000 survey (IIB-10). While the majority of students were satisfied or very satisfied with services, dissatisfied students increased from a range of 13 percent to 17 percent, depending upon the service. Despite some indication that students were dissatisfied with the availability of services, it was difficult to separate students who sought services during prime registration time from those who enrolled after the semester began, or whether lack of knowledge about services, accessibility to services, quality of services, or other variables contributed to the increased dissatisfaction.
The Student Success Team, which has leaders from all student service programs, responded to the results of the last survey by engaging assistance from the district's researcher. This led to a prioritization of issues the team would address across all Student Services. Specific programs, such as Counseling, the SHC, and the Re-entry and Women's Center, designed their own surveys in an attempt to address issues specific to their programs (IIB-11).
Through the Student Success Team (SST), service leaders coordinated a major effort to increase the visibility of student services and to increase students' knowledge of those services. The SST assessed and revised all published information on student support services. The First Contact Task Force studied first contact experiences by prospective students. A grant was used to develop a professional brochure and a new handbook of all services; place new display racks in a variety of public areas, and redesign the student services pages for the college Web site to provide a Web tour of all services (IIB-12, IIB-13). The Counseling Department created a self-paced Web page accessible to all prospective and new students that describes important services and basic information . The SST also met with the district researcher to recommend the district's student survey include the level of importance of the service.
These efforts were completed prior to the spring 2003 Student Perception Survey. The results of this survey are encouraging (IIB-14). Though it does not prove a cause and effect relationship, the results are consistent with efforts made by the Student Success Team and Student Services staff to increase students' knowledge about campus services. The college still needs to conduct a thorough analysis of the survey, evaluating to what degree efforts to increase the visibility of campus services has increased students' knowledge of available services.
Limited state, district, and college resources have affected services to students. Providing expanded and new services has come at the expense of other programs; every student service program has had to prioritize its core services. All operational budgets have been reduced. In late fall 2002, a collegewide restructuring significantly affected student services. This included the layoff of the Career Center specialist, the elimination of classified support to the Career Center; the elimination of part-time classified support at the Counseling counter, the layoff of a Student Health Center employee, and the loss of part-time hourly and extra-hourly counseling, reduction in service hours counseling at the Student Health Center, loss of coordination support for the Transfer and Career Centers, and the elimination of campus job placement services to students.
Student Services has taken a proactive approach to these problems. The Financial Aid Office has taken on the placement services for students on workstudy. Students seeking other campus or community jobs are now referred to the County Job and Career Center across the street from the college. The college has increased the number of Web-based programs to provide information on local job banks through the Ventura County Employment Bank, and on state and national job resources through the Eureka program. The Counseling Department has taken over the day-to-day supervision of the Career Center . Counselors have been trained to interpret the computerized career inventory tests. In response to the loss of Career Center staff, the Counseling Department introduced an online career class.
Positive results from these changes have occurred. For example, compared to the traditional in-class career course, the new online career class has a larger enrollment. Student services information on the Web site is both updated and more user-friendly. In spring 2004, an EOPS-sponsored retreat for Financial Aid, ENLACE, and EAC staff began planning ways to more efficiently provide services for students served by two or more of these programs.
However, the level of support for career education activities such as the annual Career Fair and Transfer Day is a concern-as is the future of the Student Health Center (IIB-15). The International Student Center has lost its academic counseling hours and has been unable to provide additional support to answer increased national security measures. The college's ability to maintain operational funding for general funded service programs remains an issue.
The college must assess long-term plans to provide stable funding for student support services; this includes assessing the effectiveness of the newly structured Transfer and Career Centers , and Student Health Center hours. The college needs to develop a long-term solution for providing students with career education services. Given the magnitude of recent cuts, the college must address the stress on student services created at peak registration.
Financial Aid, Admissions and Records, and International Students Programs will complete the new program review process by the end of fall 2004.
By the end of spring 2004, all student service programs that have completed the program review process will maintain updated program unit plans on the college's planning software program.
All student service programs completing program reviews by the end of fall 2004 will update their unit plans by the end of spring 2005.
The results of the spring 2004 EOPS-sponsored retreat will share their recommendations to the Student Success Council in fall 2005.
In fall 2004, the Student Success Team will review and evaluate the results of the spring 2003 Student Perception Survey.
The Student Success Team will review, update, and submit its staffing status report to the Administrative Council early in fall 2004.
In fall 2004, Student Services will work with the dean of Student Development and the vice president of Administrative Services to provide a transitional plan for all program moves to new facilities.
II.B.2. The institution provides a catalog for its constituencies with precise, accurate, and current information concerning the following:
Official Name, Address(es), Telephone Numbers, and
Web Site Address of the Institution
Course, Program and Degree Offerings
Academic Calendar and Program Length
Academic Freedom Statement
Available Student Financial Aid
Available Learning Resources
Names and Degrees of Administrators and Faculty
Names of Governing Board Members
Student Fees and Other Financial Obligations
Degrees, Certificates, Graduation and Transfer
Major Policies Affecting Students
Academic Regulations, including Academic Honesty
Acceptance of Transfer Credit
Grievance and Complaint Procedures
Refund of Fees
- Locations or publications where other policies may be found.
The Ventura College catalog is published annually and implemented with the fall semester. Prior to publication, all contributing departments and divisions review and revise the catalog . Approximately two months is allowed for each review. Production of the catalog is the responsibility of the Office of Student Learning. The college articulation officer and the public information officer (PIO) coordinate the review and submission of changes. New courses, programs, degrees or certificates must have been reviewed and approved by the College Curriculum Committee, the Curriculum Sub-Committee of the District Council of Student Learning (DSCL), and the Governing Board before they are included in the catalog. Depending on the nature of the policy (institutional, local district or legislatively mandated), the College Administrative Council, and/or the appropriate district administrative council, review and approve new policies or policy changes . Contributing departments and divisions review and update general information regarding admissions, registration, fees and financial aid, available learning, and student resources.
In response to the growing population of students with disabilities, the catalog is offered in alternate formats through the College's Educational Assistance Center . It is distributed in print to all matriculated new students. Copies are available for use in the College library, Counseling Offices, Admissions Office, Transfer and Career Centers , the Re-Entry and Women's Center, and copies are available for purchase at the College Bookstore. The catalog is distributed to all faculty members and staff in the student services and learning resources divisions and departments.
As advertised in the schedule of classes, Ventura College offers its full catalog online through the college and district Web sites-the first of the three colleges in the district to do so. As stated, the college's Web site is frequently reviewed by its Alternative Media Specialist to ensure accessibility to students with disabilities. Finally, the college participates in College Source, a virtual library of college catalogs available through the Internet.
Last year the catalog format was changed to an easy-to-read 8 " by 11 " , and its content restructured for easier navigation. A Glossary of College Terms, which will be expanded in the future, was added (IIB-16).
Governing policies can also be found in the district Board Policy Manual (which can be accessed through the district Web site), in the California Education Code and Title 5 Administrative Code, also accessed through the Internet. Printed copies are available in the college library. Regulations and procedures pertinent to student admission, registration, program changes, financial aid, and other services and resources can be found in the college student handbook, which is distributed to new matriculated students, and in the semester-based schedule of classes, both of which are available in English and Spanish (IIB-17).
The college has taken steps over the past five years to improve and enhance the catalog, including such features as easier readability and a glossary. It does not include the Academic Freedom Statement, which is found in the Board Policy Manual, or a list of locations where other policies and information can be found. The college needs to continue to restructure the information, such as acceptance of transfer credit, and improve the location of college policies and available support services.
The college will evaluate the placement of information within the catalog, paying special attention to the placement of policies and support services in the 2004-2005 catalog. In addition, the college will include a list of other locations on campus or on the Web where district and college policies may be found.
The college will include the Academic Freedom statement in the 2004-2005 catalog.
II.B.3. The institution researches and identifies the learning support needs of its student population and provides appropriate services and programs to address those needs.
a. The institution assures equitable access to all of its students by providing appropriate, comprehensive, and reliable services to students regardless of service location or delivery method.
The college provides and assures equitable access to a comprehensive array of programs and services to address the learning support needs of its student population. The college believes that quality assessment, advisement and placement are keys to each student's success, and that the diversity of its student population is best served by providing a variety of venues for these services. During the week, assessment, orientation and counseling are offered on the main campus and at the East Campus. To accommodate working students, evening and Saturday services are available on the main campus. All-day Friday and Saturday sessions allow students to complete all of the components in one day if desired .
All students are provided access to English and math assessment. The assessment schedule is published in the college schedule and on the Web. Assessment is also available, by request, at the California Youth Authority and all local high schools. Test results are usually available the same day. All scores are uploaded to the district's computerized student database for automatic check for prerequisites. Counselors use this information to guide students to appropriate class levels. Printed score reports are available for students in the Counseling Center .
Two additional assessments are available to students. The English as a Second Language (ESL) Department offers assessment testing for ESL students using the CASAS-IRCA testing instrument, which incorporates listening, speaking, and writing components. ESL assessment testing occurs both on campus and at the East Campus Center . Ability to Benefit Tests (ATB) are used to qualify students without high school diplomas or GEDs for financial aid. This testing is provided in English and Spanish and is available both on campus and at the East Campus.
The three major programs-Counseling, EAC, and EOPS-offering assessment, orientation and academic advisement participate in the collegewide program review process. EOPS/CARE and EAC also integrate their college program review with their annual state reporting process. The program review process requires the identification of changing needs and program recommendations. These in turn provide the foundation for the program unit plans.
The new student appointment system (SARS Grid), which can track the number of students using services, has proven a valuable tool for evaluating the appropriate level of services. Counseling, EAC, and the Student Health Center use the data to compare student services use from year to year. Through this analysis, for example, the college learned that though the student population remained stable from fall 2002 to fall 2003, student counseling contacts the first three weeks of the 2003 fall semester increased by 32 percent (IIB-19).
The Counseling Department and the Assessment Office consider student contact data from each prior semester before making changes to the next schedule. The result has been an increase in the number of evening assessment sessions. The schedule of services is published in the printed schedule and on the Web.
The college engages in ongoing research to assure both the validity and the effectiveness of assessment and placement. The English Department, the Assessment Testing Specialist, and a consulting researcher have conducted validity studies for the tests and for cut-off scores. On a regular basis, they survey faculty and students about the assessment/placement process. Since the last accreditation, the college has locally validated and implemented assessment testing and cut-off scores for math and English, and has implemented prerequisites for English, math, speech and biology.
Orientation and its services are provided through group classes at the college, local high schools, and the East Campus. A half unit, eight-hour Guidance Workshop (GW V02A) presents information for new students on student services and college processes. A newly revised Web site contains a complete online virtual tour and orientation that also includes information on all student services and resource offices. The college offers an online, one unit orientation guidance class open to all students; this class covers more in-depth information on services and other topics to enhance student success. An additional on-campus, one unit orientation class has been designed for all new international students. Special programs across the campus, such as the EOPS and Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) acquaint students with college resources and specific program requirements. The EAC offers classes that are designed to acquaint students with their dominant learning styles.
Academic advisement is offered in a variety of ways. Three college offices- EAC, EOPS and the Counseling Department-provide academic counseling for students throughout the year. As part of the college recruitment process, the Counseling Department provides full-day sessions at high schools that include assessment, orientation and advisement. On campus and at the East Campus, students can receive counseling on a drop-by basis, or by scheduling an appointment. Designed for working students, all-day, one-stop assessment/counseling and advisements sessions are available on Saturdays prior to the beginning of each semester. Partly due to budget cuts, the number of weekly counseling hours has been reduced. The department has been looking for alternative ways to deliver counseling services, which include group counseling of same-major students and online counseling.
Services for new students are coordinated through the college's Matriculation Program, which provides funding for hourly counseling and many of the support services staff. It has sponsored research on the impact of new student services on student success, as discussed in II.B.1. It has also helped improve student access to services by providing support for the Spanish language admissions application, a Spanish language student handbook, the student Early Alert system, and the Spanish language brochures for specific technology programs.
The EAC has also broadened its services to improve accessibility to students with disabilities. It has developed a protocol for providing assessment to Spanish-speaking learning disability students, and has translated a number of its informational brochures into Spanish.
The college is evaluating the most effective way to provide students with feedback and follow-up information on their academic progress. The Early Alert System uses faculty reports to identify at-risk students; these students receive a computer-generated letter alerting them of their status and recommending a course of action.
Since the last self study, the college has implemented academic and progress probation intervention. A districtwide Student Success Committee, which includes counselors, matriculation coordinators, district staff and appropriate college managers, reviewed the district policy and a number of probation letters from other colleges. The committee created a series of letters targeting students identified as performing below district standards (IIB-20). The letters strongly suggest that students on probation contact counselors; this is encouraged by progressively limiting the number of units for which a student can enroll, depending on the number of semesters the student has been on probation. In fall 2003, the three colleges implemented the computerized probation system, alerting students to their grade point average and academic progress (number of units and drops). After a counselor reviews the student's unit load, academic goal, course history and work obligation, strategies and campus resources are recommended to improve the chances of success.
Students are most often referred to the following support services: assessment, tutoring, testing for learning disabilities, basic skill classes, learning skills classes, financial aid, EOPS program, EAC program, the Transfer and Career Centers, the Re-entry and Women's Center, and appropriate faculty. Students may also be referred to personal/psychological counseling through the Student Health Center , family support through the Child Development Center , or to the CalWORKs Program.