The Ottumwa Courier

March 28, 2014

A sense of 'I can'

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — The newly renovated Pothoven Academic SUCCESS Center at Indian Hills Community College is advancing the idea that it's perfectly all right for students to ask for help.

"Struggling is noble and normal for academics," SUCCESS Center Director Daniel Aucutt explained. "Our culture has gotten to where we want the easy way, but there is no easy way to success. It takes hard work, and we're reintroducing that concept."

At the college-sponsored coffee talk Friday morning, IHCC administrators were on hand to give tours of the SUCCESS Center and answer questions about how it is positively affecting students. While answering a specific question or tackling a difficult class in general is the immediate goal, Indian Hills President Marlene Sprouse says that the simple act of pushing a student to succeed is vitally important.

"We want them to walk away with a real sense of 'I can succeed in college. I might not have had the skill level I needed, so I was struggling in a class, or I was afraid of a class, but now I feel like I can be a success.' I want them to have that feeling when they walk out of there," Sprouse said.

Located between the arts and sciences building and the formal lounge, the center has been designed with an open floor plan to allow for a number of classrooms, labs and study areas. At the front desk, students can ask questions and be directed to the staff and tutors who can best help them with their academic concerns. The welcome center has been a strategic tool beyond being an attractive, welcoming place to draw students in who might be reluctant to come ask for help.

"The basic premise is that the students are signed in using a computer tracking system," he said. "Then we can see the trends of how they're utilizing our services."

And those services are wide and varied, each designed to solve both immediate classwork questions and provide a strategy to succeed in the future. Indian Hills students can sign up for personal, one-on-one tutoring, utilize the computer lab work space, find guidance for English and mathematics concepts or take one of the skill-building courses the center offers.

"We have two basic areas of professional support: English and mathematics. Those are the foundational areas for academic success in higher education," Aucutt said, while peer tutors are available in many of the college's programs and courses. "So they come here, we take a look at their work. We don't fix their papers for them, but we show them how to fix their own papers. The idea is that we help them to be better writers, and that's a major mission."

While the remodel and other changes are still very new, Sprouse says there is already much positive feedback about the SUCCESS Center and its future potential.

"We can't yet tell you the exact numbers, but we think that by the traffic flow through there and the amount of people that we notice, just anecdotally, and the faculty here are saying they're busier, that it's making a difference," Sprouse said. "[The center] fits right in with the things that we're trying to accomplish now. We're trying to complete more students ... and we want students in our 10-county area to feel that success."

The Pothoven Academic SUCCESS Center was formally dedicated to John Pothoven, president of the IHCC Board of Trustees, in 2013 in honor of his dedication to the college and donations to the scholarship fund. Pothoven represents the Oskaloosa area on the board of trustees.

The center is open from 7:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7:15 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information, call 641-683-5238.

— Follow reporter Laura Carrell on Twitter @CourierLauraC