Improvements for academic and career enrichment focus on student success

August 17, 2016

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University recently combined two student support offices into the new Academic and Career Enrichment Center (ACE) and created the Center for Experiential Learning (BenXL) to better serve students and help them succeed in their studies and the professional world.

Student success is a key element at BenU, and as the world of education and careers change, so must the University.

Several improvements to student learning have been put in place so the University can further help students succeed at school and in their careers.

During the summer, the Student Success Center and the Career Development Center became ACE as part of a more concentrated effort to help students make better decisions about major fields of study and future career opportunities. ACE acts as a clearinghouse where students can go for a variety of resources from academic tutoring and studies skills workshops to resume, job search and interviewing strategies.

ACE is housed on the second floor of Goodwin Hall and is strategically located near the Starbucks café, where a great number of students are known to congregate. It is joined by other critical student resources like the Advising Center (where students first meet their academic advisors and chart academic goals) and BenXL.

“Students don’t always reach out to us, and that means we have to be in front of them,” said Julie Cosimo, Ed.D., ACE director. “Being together in Goodwin Hall will help us meet students’ needs and increase their success.”

In addition to writing and math learning specialists, ACE will provide a new dedicated science learning specialist to assist students facing difficulties in some of the more challenging courses offered through the College of Science. Another learning specialist will help monitor students who are at risk of failing and will reach out to them to ascertain whether they need other services, such as tutoring or help with test-taking and note-taking skills, or if they need to reconsider a major.

ACE and Information Technology staff will strive to provide enhanced support tailored to online and traditional students who have competing priorities.

“Eighty-five percent of our students work while going to Benedictine,” Cosimo said. “So they are going to classes and then they are running to their jobs. They don’t always have the time to personally meet with a learning specialist for help. Providing better online services is one of the things we are really going to be focusing on.”

ACE plans to develop two new courses. One would help undecided freshmen and sophomores learn more about their personal values, goals and interests, and decide on a major best suited to their skills and personalities. A second course offered to juniors and seniors will focus on developing quality job-search campaigns.

As the University continues to expand hands-on learning experiences, it will rely on BenXL to help students locate and obtain more of the kinds of experiences that employers are seeking from college graduates.

The new center will be charged with organizing a searchable database of every hands-on learning opportunity offered through the University. Once complete, students together with their advisors will be able to better plan, evaluate and apply for a wide range of experiences, such as internships, service learning or study abroad experiences, student-faculty research and register for courses with real-world applicable activities, such as creating marketing plans for local businesses or serving as an elected official in an Illinois government simulation.

Starting this fall, experiential learning will become a requirement for freshman students so that by the end of their senior year they will have taken at least one experiential learning course, according to María de la Cámara, Ph.D., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

“Our hope is students will not restrict themselves to that requirement — that they will continue to do more,” de la Cámara said. “We know the more experiences a student can have during their years here, the better their outlook is for a successful professional and personal life afterward.”

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 Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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