Rowan College at Burlington County touts new academic program for boosting grades of struggling students

Officials say some struggling students have been taken from the verge of academic dismissal to the school's dean’s list.

RCBC Academic Advisor Kate Gonzalez and student Amani Edwards.

Officials with Rowan College at Burlington County say a new student success initiative geared toward helping struggling students has taken some from the verge of academic dismissal to the school’s dean’s list.

The National Academic Advising Association, also known as The Global Community for Academic Advising, has awarded RCBC with its “Best of Region” at its recent conference for the Academic Contract for Excellence (ACE) program.

Through the ACE program, college academic advisors work closely with students at risk of dismissal because of poor academic performance to improve their study skills, time management and planning techniques.

ACE launched in fall 2017 and officials say it has improved the students’ likelihood of staying in college and graduating.

Officials say the program started with 27 students and helped 18 stay in college, boosting their cumulative grade point average from 1.57 to 2.18 after three terms. Nearly 78 percent of participants reached achieved a 3.0 GPA in a semester and several have reached a perfect 4.0 GPA, graduated and transferred to a four-year college.

Amani Edwards, of Willingboro, is one of the program’s success stories. In high school, Edwards was among the top 15 percent of her class, which earned her free tuition through the NJ STARS program. Her goals of transferring to a historically black college to study nursing were stifled after some struggles in some math and science courses sent her GPA below the 2.0 GPA required for graduation.

At risk of academic dismissal, Edwards met with Kate Gonzalez, an Academic Advisor who recommended her for the new ACE program. They switched Edwards’ major to Psychology, scaled her class load back to part-time and met throughout the semester to keep on track. Edwards entered ACE in fall 2017 with a 1.77 GPA and graduated in 2018 with a 2.712 GPA.

She is now on track to complete her Rowan University bachelor’s degree this December as part of the 3+1 program.

“It was almost like I had to meet the highest standards because I had someone connected to me, had hope in me and expected me to exceed my expectations,” Edwards said.

Gonzalez earned Best of the Region recognition after presenting the program at a regional advising conference.

“With the correct support system in place, students have tremendous capability to overcome setbacks and achieve academic success,” said RCBC President Michael A. Cioce. “Kudos to Kate and the entire advising team for developing a smart plan to create a stunning turnaround for students who just needed a little extra help. It’s also worth extending special congratulations to the ACE students like Amani for never giving up on themselves to reach their goals and become an inspiration to all.”

RCBC’s Academic Advising invites eligible students to join the program as a second chance to turn around their performance. The college offers free tutoring and several other programs geared to help students before their grades decline. Students who are struggling can reach out to Academic Advising at advising@rcbc.edu or visit rcbc.edu/advising.

“Don’t give up,” Edwards said when asked what she would tell a student experiencing some difficulty. “If you need to switch your major, that’s OK. If you need to stay an extra semester to improve your grades, then do it. Don’t worry about graduating at the same time as your friends. Don’t worry about doing things for anyone else like your parents. Just do what you need to do.”