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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU reaches out to help students in need

It's an unfortunate fact; many students in need of help won't go out of their way to find it. That's why NMSU is going out of its way to find them.

QuickConnect is an early alert and intervention program focused on identifying students in need of academic or other assistance and putting them in touch with the appropriate resources. The program complements one of NMSU's top priorities - retaining students.

Students in participating courses who miss multiple classes are referred to QuickConnect. Volunteer responders will then attempt to contact the student and if help is needed, they can refer the student to the appropriate resources on campus. Students can be referred for other concerns as well, both academic and non-academic. Some of the most common reasons for poor student performance include poor study habits and problems with time management.

"I think a lot of times, students don't know that they need it until they need it," said Jeff Long, director of Learning Communities at NMSU and head of QuickConnect. "If no one ever contacted them, we might lose these students."

The program is geared toward first-year students but is open to everyone. At the beginning of each semester, participating instructors are asked to talk about QuickConnect with their classes and put information about the program in their syllabuses. Last semester 114 different classes participated.

"Sometimes it's hard to get a student to talk to an instructor when there are 100 or more students in a class," said Kristin Cordova, student relations coordinator and a responder for the program. She said putting the student in touch with the instructor is often the most beneficial step.

All responders are faculty and staff members who work on a volunteer basis and attend a training seminar before working with students. They are usually asked to handle about one referral a week. One of the challenges for responders is often establishing the initial contact with the students. Information such as cell phone numbers can be hard to collect.

Once students are contacted, the responder talks with them about the correlation between class attendance and a student's success in a class. The students are also reminded of the various services provided by NMSU to help students who have trouble. Since fall of 2006, more than 500 students have been recommended for referral.