The newly created Division of Student Success and Enrollment Management (SS&EM) is a game-changer, plain and simple. And, although it was a complex process, the differences all boil down to two words common to all stakeholders – amplified outreach.
Ask Alyssa Fleischer (’22, Legal Studies). As student government president, Fleischer has her finger on the pulse of things at FGCU and sees clearly how the SS&EM has breathed new life into past practices and created new policies and procedures paving the way for a new day at FGCU.
Fleischer’s own journey began with her involvement, almost by accident, with student government. “When I first came to the university, students were more likely to get involved in an activity if a student they knew introduced them to it,” she said. In Fleischer’s case it was her resident advisor who suggested she get involved with student government. That was three years ago, the very time when the SS&EM was coming to fruition and beginning to fine-tune its focus on student success.
“Now, in contrast to my early involvement in student government, I’ve noticed that it’s new faces coming from diverse groups on campus, not necessarily all friends of friends,” she said. “It seems like everything is more hands-on with administrators and staff engaging with students more and more.”
Brian Fisher is associate vice president of Student Engagement and leads the charge to involve students in all aspects of campus life. “He had an extreme amount of influence on my student success career path,” Fleischer said. “He helped shape me into the leader I am today.” As did Lyndsey Johns, assistant dean of students. “Lindsey helped create the person I am today.”
The challenges freshmen face in their transition from high school to college are well documented. However, Fleischer points out that this year’s sophomores – who spent their entire freshman year online due to the pandemic – face the same challenges as incoming freshman. Referring to student leadership as well as staff and administrators, she said, “We need to treat these students with a little bit of grace. We’ll all have to work together with them to help them transition to the rigors of college.”
Fleischer credits the changes on campus not only to the organizational reshuffling within the university, but also to the increased outreach by staff as a result. She cited tabling as one effective strategy that reaches more students than ever before. “What you see is that anywhere on campus, the student union, the library lawn, wherever,” said Fleischer, “staff members set up tables with brochures and free handouts and essentially invite students to learn about a club, an organization, or available resources.” It’s a soft sell, and Fleischer said that whether students approach the table for information or free handouts, tabling is an outreach well worth the effort.
When it comes to enrollment management, Fleischer said the ease with which students can access financial aid and scholarship information is greatly improved. “It may seem a small thing, but small connections make a huge difference,” she said. “To have both offices side-by-side is a welcome improvement.”
Academic advising is another area where Fleischer sees improvements, mentioning the greater accessibility to advisors as one important example. “In my case, I entered college knowing legal studies was my goal, but how to get where I wanted to be wasn’t entirely clear to me.”
In sophomore year, students are re-assigned an advisor based on their specific major. “My legal studies advisor sat down with me to show me precisely how to do what I wanted to do. She gave me names of professors who are still practicing law and conducting clinics. She helped me figure out how to take advantage of the resources the university has to offer and, importantly, how I could graduate in four years.”
Alyssa Fleischer is clear when it comes to her FGCU journey “I always say I bleed green and blue. I love being an ambassador for the university; I love serving the students. Everything here has made sense for me. FGCU is the best decision I ever made. Wherever life takes me, I will owe a lot to FGCU, specifically all the people, including my mentors, my fellow students.”