Ahead of the curve

 Director of the Academic Resource Center Noel Garrett met with nearly 50 students during the spring semester.

Director of the Academic Resource Center Noel Garrett met with nearly 50 students during the spring semester.

It’s only been one semester, but the new Academic Resource Center is already drawing rave reviews from students and faculty alike.

“The Academic Resource Center provides students highly personalized support to help them achieve their goals. The benefit is tremendous and empowers students to be fully engaged in their learning,” said Carol Akai, the Bennett Assistant Professor of Human Development.

The center is part of the College’s latest effort to optimize the academic potential of all students through a number of channels, including tutoring, workshops and group study that will focus not only on academics, but also on study skills and time management. The center will include the Roth Writing Center and the Office of Disability Services. Professional staff in the center will also work closely with staff and faculty in the Joy Shechtman Mankoff Center for Teaching & Learning.

 “Many colleges offer tutoring centers,” said Noel Garrett, director of the Academic Resource Center. “Our aim is to transform the way that looks, creating a new model for student success. We want this to be a centralized place where exceptional students can maximize their potential, but at the same time, offer basic skill enhancement and academic resources to help them become more efficient and effective learners.”

In addition to integrating existing resources on campus, the center will feature a new quantitative skills program that will equip students with the abilities to succeed in college and beyond.

“Ultimately, the program will enhance the overall understanding of the role of quantitative analysis,  helping students develop basic skills,” Garrett said. Those skills include making reliable measurements, using statistical reasoning, modeling empirical data, formulating mathematical descriptions and theories, and using mathematical techniques to explain data and predict outcomes. 

Garrett, who started in January, has already held about 50 one-on-one meetings with students in the first semester. “Based on feedback I’m hearing from these students and from faculty involved with the center, we’re already seeing improved test scores and better study habits. That’s very gratifying for everyone.”

Molly Huysman ’16 said she has struggled with time management in the past, and meeting with Garrett at the center has had a very positive effect on her learning abilities.

“We schedule everything — even snacks and study breaks,” said Huysman, who was so encouraged by her experience at the center that she plans to work there next year. “I am now able to stay on track better and even found that I had more free time than I thought.”

As part of the forthcoming renovation to the Charles E. Shain Library, plans are underway to move the Academic Resource Center into a 2,500-square-foot space in the building, complete with seminar rooms, staff offices and meeting rooms for tutoring and workshops. The center will also bring in additional staff members, including a learning specialist, a program coordinator and a director of the new quantitative skills program.

The center has been funded and endowed by an anonymous $11 million gift, part of the $200 million Campaign for Connecticut College.