News & Events

A Chance to Connect: Waubonsee Resources to the Rescue Helps Students Connect with Timely Help, Campus Community

Volunteers, including administrators, staff, faculty and returning students, twice each year don red capes to welcome students on the first two days of classes at Waubonsee Community College during the semiannual Welcome Waubonsee event. The welcome event comes as part of the Resources to the Rescue program, a college initiative to enhance student success by connecting students with the resources they need to succeed when they need them most.

In his last 14 years of service as a tutor in Waubonsee Community College’s Tutoring Center, Tom Clotz has helped many students improve their assignments, boost their grades and gain firmer academic footing for the scholastic journey to come.

While nominally an English tutor, Clotz, of Hinckley, said his efforts have touched the lives of students seeking help with assignments dealing with history, philosophy, criminal justice and more.

“It’s anything that involves writing,” said Clotz.

But in his experience, Clotz knows many more students, some of whom may be just as in need of assistance, will never darken the door of any of Waubonsee’s Tutoring Centers.

The reasons may be numerous. Some students may believe they do not need the help. Others may be too reluctant to ask for help. But others may not know about the resources the college has ready and waiting to assist them.

For the past two years, Waubonsee staff, assembled from such various student-centered departments as Tutoring, Financial Aid, Admissions and Counseling, among others, and led by the Student Life team, have partnered to address those concerns, rolling out the college’s Resources to the Rescue program.

“We know the first six weeks are the most critical to connect students with the resources available to them,” said Student Life Manager Mary Tosch. “Through Resources to the Rescue, we provide students with some strategies, bringing them the events and resources they need, when they need them, all along the way.”

The Resources to the Rescue effort began in early 2013, when a Waubonsee action committee, then operating under the rubric of the Foundations of Excellence, now known as Foundations for Student Success, began crafting a plan to help students find the right help at the right time, said Dr. Scott Peska, Waubonsee’s Dean for Students, who led the action committee.

“We asked the questions, ‘What resources are available for students to utilize? When should they be available? And when should we highlight them?’” said Peska.

While students may need to access the Tutoring Center, for instance, Peska said they might not recognize that need until they reach the first round of tests.

“So that might be the right time to introduce them to the services we offer through the Tutoring Center,” Peska said.

Moving quickly, the committee rolled out a plan to establish a series of events throughout the semester designed to connect students with the help they need, as well as the greater campus community.

Each semester, the event series is opened and closed by two “bookend” events.

At each semester’s opening, groups of volunteers, including administrators, staff, faculty and returning students, operate booths at strategic points on the Sugar Grove and Aurora campuses, handing out fun Waubonsee-branded items, snacks or drinks, and the information and guidance students need to make their first day on campus a success during the semiannual Welcome Waubonsee event.

To close the semester’s Resources to the Rescue events, the college hosts the semiannual Eggcellent Night for Studying, allowing students to gather in the Student Center, eat breakfast for dinner, and study for final exams with friends and classmates, while benefiting from tutors and faculty volunteers on hand to answer questions and dish out tips, guidance and assistance with assignments.

The events have borne results.

Already this year, the various Resources to the Rescue events have directly reached more than 2,900 students, connecting them with more than 50 staff and faculty volunteers.

“There’s been great energy,” said Peska. “It’s been a fun, energizing committee, and it’s outreach efforts to students foster a positive connection.”

At the fall 2014 Welcome Waubonsee, for instance, Resources to the Rescue distributed to students at all four campuses 1,700 “one-sheet” fliers, chock full of information ranging from how to access the campuses’ wireless Internet and where to get food, to information about financial aid and important upcoming dates.

And over three semesters, the Eggcellent Night for Studying events have drawn more than 400 students.

Clotz, who has worked all three Eggcellent Night events, said the events have created an “enjoyable atmosphere” for students, staff and faculty, alike.

For a tutor like him, Clotz said the most enjoyable aspect of the event is the opportunity to connect with students he wouldn’t normally see during his shifts at the Tutoring Center.

“They’re new faces, and it’s great to get to work with them,” Clotz said.

While he said he would prefer the chance to work with them on a one-on-one basis over the course of a semester, to truly measure their progress, Clotz said he believes events like Eggcellent Night allow the chance for learning professionals, like him, to make a difference in the lives of students.

“Being a community college, our students are commuters, so maybe they don’t get the chance to really get to know anyone outside their classes,” said Clotz. “Things like this are a good opportunity to help them connect.”