Rend Lake College is focused on teaching its students not only academics, but also to be self-reliant and responsible citizens. Through services such as the Student Transfer and Retention Support Program (STARS), the college staff provides opportunities for students to achieve these traits.
"Part of the mission of student services at Rend Lake College is to recruit and retain our students while providing support services -- academic, financial and personal -- that are necessary for them to achieve success," said Mary Roe, Vice President of Student Services. STARS and other student support programs have been implemented at Rend Lake College to assist students with the transition to a community college and help them reach their objectives of graduation or transfer to a four-year university.
"As with many community colleges, Rend Lake College has a large number of first-generation college students. For these students to be successful, the college staff must make a connection with them in the first six weeks of their college experience. The STARS program has been the college leader in accomplishing this with immediate and direct services to students." said Roe.
RLC identified and selected 150 low-income, first-generation or disabled students to participate in the STARS program. According to the 2002-2003 STARS Student Support Services Performance Report, Rend Lake College retained 79 of 99 students (80 percent) who did not graduate or transfer to a four-year university. The goal had been a minimum of 75 percent.
Approximately 135 Student Support Services participants remained in good academic standing (maintaining a 2.0 grade-point average or better on a 4.0 scale), 45 out of 46 students who intended to graduate did so on time, and 41 out of 45 students who intended to transfer did so on time.
The average retention rate of STARS participants over the last five years is 82 percent. Approximately 90 percent of those who intended to graduate did so in that time, and 89 percent of students who wished to transfer to a university achieved their goal.
"The STARS program has been the model for the retention efforts at RLC," said STARS Director Julie Mumbower. "Through countless efforts to connect with our students, the STARS program has exceeded its goals each year for persistence, retention, graduation and transfer of its students."
The STARS program offers academic support, counseling and advisement, financial aid assistance, career assessment and cultural enrichment activities to its participants.
Upon entering the STARS program, all students complete a needs assessment with the STARS counselor and complete an Educational Success Plan which outlines their academic goals and potential strengths and weaknesses. Staff evaluate these reports and recommend specific academic support services for each student. The services include tutoring, workshops, study groups and mentoring.
STARS participants are offered career, transfer, academic and personal counseling on an ongoing basis. The personal time and attention students receive through STARS helps them answer questions and work through problems, contributing to the successful retention of these students. In 2002-2003, a total of 1,002 hours of counseling were reported.
STARS students can also take advantage of cultural enrichment activities. For the 2002-2003 project year, activities included a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, a symphony orchestra concert at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, the "Nutcracker" ballet at SIU-C, a reading by poet Maya Angelou and a STARS banquet.
For more information on STARS and other Student Support Services, contact Mary Roe, Vice President of Student Services, at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1328, or Mumbower at Ext. 1343.