Jeffrey Merritt

Make room for success

In order to serve more students, including those who need immediate help, the Academic Achievement Center (AAC) has a new home in OCB 304 with about twice the square footage. 

The AAC formerly was located in the Billington Library, just inside the door from the second-floor skywalk. While it was on a prime pathway, it lacked the space the AAC needed to help everyone, especially walk-ins who wanted help, said Jeffrey Merritt, director. 

 “We’re hoping that students will now seek us out for the help they need for all aspects of academic success,” he said. 

Unlike subject-specific resource centers (like the Writing Center, the Math Resource Center or the Science Resource Center), the AAC helps in all aspects of academics. 

Dedicated spaces will be carved out for classroom instruction, personalized conferences and louder group study. 

“We’ll be using dividers to create zones where different types of activities can happen simultaneously,” Merritt said. 

Attached to the AAC will be a new reading resource area for students who need help with reading skills. “Our reading teachers have been asking for an adjacent space for some time now,” Merritt said. 

The AAC in COM 304 now offers to students the following services: 

  • A free Smart Start consultation. This service offers a checklist of best practices for academic success. While some tips might seem obvious (bring your books to class with you), other tips are more involved (develop a schedule to include all aspects of personal and academic life). The staff of the AAC urges all students, but especially first-generation college students, to get a consultation. 
  • Training in campus computer systems. The college depends on the stumail email system and MyJCCC to share important information, but if a student missed orientation (or decided not to take it), he or she might not understand these systems. The AAC can help.  It also provides training in EASI and the Angel Learning Management System. “Instructors sometimes send students email before the first day of class, and students don’t know the email account exists.” It’s that element of surprise that AAC wants to remove. 

Everyone attending a Smart Start consultation or computer systems training during the first week of classes will be registered to win a $25 Cavalier Card (a gift card for use at retail outlets on campus). 

  • Placement test review and placement help. Students who were surprised or even upset by their results on placement tests can go to the AAC for help on reviewing for a retake. Software called PLATO can analyze strengths and weaknesses and help students review challenging areas. 
  • Credit courses that prepare students for more advanced study. The AAC is also the setting for self-paced classes that help students with study skills, English skills and math and chemistry preparation. Students must report to the AAC at least once a week, but the required 20 hours to complete the course may be scheduled around the students’ other classes. 
The computer lab that was in OCB 304 is now in the AAC’s old location of LIB 227. The AAC is open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.