The Mustang Success Center was created to make advising more uniform, so students won’t receive different instructions from multiple departments. It also serves as a starting point for confused students.
The answer to student success has been simplified at Cal Poly.
The Mustang Success Center, which opened at the beginning of this fall quarter, is intended for students who need general advising about their path at Cal Poly. Shannon Stephens, Mustang Success Center director, said the center welcomes all students who come in for assistance.
“What we do is offer general advising services to students,” Stephens said. “While our focus is first years, second years and first-year transfers, we don’t turn anyone else in need of advising away.”
The center is funded by the Student Success Fee, which was implemented in Fall 2012 to help fund the university after state budget cuts for higher education. With the Student Success Fee, students voted to increase their tuition fee to pay for better quality instruction, more classes and increased opportunities to see advisers.
What differentiates the Mustang Success Center from other advising resources on campus is it does not focus on any particular college or department.
“We do get some questions about curriculum and classes, but there are also a lot of general questions asking where to go to get a specific action done, like for example changing majors or adding minors,” Stephens said.
“We do a lot of trouble-shooting for students,” she said.
Beth Miller, the assistant vice provost for University Advising, heads the Mustang Success Center. She said the center was created as a first line of contact.
“If students don’t know where to go or what to do, they can start with Mustang Success Center,” Miller said. “Then we provide them with front-line services and answer general questions that are not specific to their major.”
The Mustang Success Center also offers a full-time walk-in service unlike other advice centers on campus. This means students don’t need to make appointments to talk to advisers and find assistance, they simply drop in.
Since the beginning of fall quarter, the Mustang Success Center has seen approximately 150 students, Stephens said.
That doesn’t include the number of students the center reached out to in the residence halls. During the first two weeks of school, they helped freshmen approximately four hours a day.
Christina Wolfe, one of the three advisers at the center, describes the on-campus outreach as a proactive approach.
“Instead of waiting for the students to come to us, we’ve been going to them through programming it in the dorms,” Wolfe said. “We hope this proactive approach creates an impact for students on campus.”
But the Mustang Success Center isn’t only focused on being a strong center of advice for students on its own — the center also hopes to create a strong collaboration with all college advice centers on campus.
“Part of the concern was that previously — when there was a decentralized advising system here at Cal Poly — students would get several different messages about the same thing because people didn’t know what other people were doing,” Miller said.
“With the Mustang Success Center, we can coordinate those efforts with other colleges so students aren’t getting contacted so many different times.”
Stephens believes this method makes the advising team at Cal Poly very strong.
“Having a non-college specific advising center collaborate with all the colleges creates a powerful advising experience for students to really come together for the consistency of advising,” Stephens said. “When it comes to policy and procedures, there shouldn’t be high degrees of variation depending on what college you’re in. … Our goal at the Mustang Success Center is to create a consistent advising experience for all.”
Wolfe said this makes the Mustang Success Center unique in its assisting method.
“Students who don’t know where to go have a place to start,” she said. “And if they have questions in the future, they always have a place to come back to.”
While the center is temporarily located in Science (building 52), room D37, it will soon be permanently co-located with student academic services at the front of the building after renovation in Summer 2014.