Published On: Tue, Oct 19th, 2010

FAU gets $1.6 million Department of Education grant to help support at-risk students

BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic University has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive $1,632,689 through its Title III Strengthening Institutions program to support at-risk second-year students.

FAU was awarded a competitive grant, which is sought by higher education institutions across the nation. Funding for FAU will be issued over a five-year period.

With this grant, FAU will create a program titled “Academic and Career Enhancement for Second-year Students (AcCESS)” targeted at students most at risk of attrition. AcCESS is designed to get students back on track academically, and reduce major and career indecision which is an important factor behind second-year student attrition.

“Florida Atlantic University has demonstrated a strong commitment to developing academic support programs and services, and we are honored to have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive this important grant,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders.

“We have a diverse student population and each and every student is unique,” she said. “We are invested in ensuring their success, and with this grant, we will be able to assist them through increased access to tutoring, academic and skills workshops, and individualized academic and career advising.”

This grant will enable FAU to create five full-time positions to support AcCESS. AcCESS programs will include vigorous advising, tutoring, and major and career counseling. Students entering the program will attend regular meetings with AcCESS academic advisors to gauge progress in their courses. They will also participate in time-management and study skills workshops conducted by the AcCESS academic advisors.

Tutoring will be available for courses where students have previously failed or in other historically difficult courses students are taking for the first time.

Second-year attrition stems from major and career indecision and without the appropriate advising and career counseling, these students stand at greater risk of attrition. Through this program, students will also have the opportunity to participate in faculty advising/mentoring sessions and a special Career and Life Planning course specifically designed for this program.

“AcCESS will ensure that second-year students will have the support services necessary for them to succeed,” said Dr. Edward Pratt, FAU’s dean of undergraduate studies and principal investigator of the Title III grant. “The support services will be designed to meet the particular needs of students and will include one-on-one meetings with advisors, participation in career and major workshops, and faculty mentoring.”

The AcCESS program is available to all students who meet the criteria for participation in the program. Student groups that will be targeted for the AcCESS program include those who are on academic suspension or probation but have GPAs over 1.5, students who are otherwise at risk of attrition because their GPAs fall below 2.5, and students entering their second fall semester with undeclared majors. Dr. Jess Tuck, who served as FAU’s assistant director of Freshman Academic Advising Services, has been appointed as project director of the program.

Florida Atlantic University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.