Hyper-focused on student success

By Deanna Sheely

Collaborations and a commitment to supporting students culminate in new Academic Success Center at Minneapolis College.

The new Academic Success Center at Minneapolis College opened in time for its 6,700-plus students to begin using it this fall. The 16,400 square-foot, ultra-modern space is equipped with the latest technology and a full menu of services to support the college’s diverse student body.

“Engage Students” is one of the college’s four strategic priorities. The fresh designs and innovations in the center create an engaging learning experience and feature dedicated spaces for student support and resource centers. It connects with primary campus circulation paths, enhancing the visibility and presence of academic and other support services. Students now have a central location where they can access a broad variety of study spaces and state-of-the-art technologies.

Nearly 60 part-time tutors join the director and seven full-time staff members in staffing the center to ensure students can obtain individualized support for academic success. The design provides flexible and diverse learning spaces outside the classroom and accommodates a variety of learning activities to centralize campus academic support space.

The space offers students a host of special support services, including tutoring in writing, math, biology, nursing and an array of additional subjects, a new computer lab with tutoring support to assist students in building digital literacy, a speech practice lab with recording equipment, individual and group study areas, breakout rooms for student/staff/faculty interaction and regular mini-sessions on topics in mathematics, English, chemistry, study skills and digital literacy.

Facilities experts worked with Student and Academic Affairs Divisions, the Student Senate and a cross-functional team of faculty and staff to plan the programming, layout and functions of the new space. The project is part of the college’s Comprehensive Facilities Plan that includes a multi-year, phased approach to physical improvements. The plan’s primary goals in building renovations are: express and support diversity, support first-year students, support student success and increase social interaction between students to enhance a sense of welcoming and inclusion.

By centralizing these student activities, the center is already creating a spike in tutoring session. When comparing the number of tutoring sessions in October 2017 to October 2018, staff report an increase of 23.7 percent. This is attributed to students using the computer lab and study spaces located within the center that draws additional attention to the tutoring center.

The $2.5 million project was funded through campus reserves. The center’s services are available to Minneapolis College students at no cost.


Deanna Sheely

is chief of staff and communications officer at Minneapolis College in Minnesota.