Tulsa Community College (TCC) has received a five-year, $1.1 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide academic support for educationally and economically disadvantaged TCC students and students with disabilities by creating learning communities that will incorporate traditional developmental education curriculum in core areas with an innovative approach using the study of humanities to help students realize their potential.
“Higher education is increasingly focusing so intensively on skill development that it neglects the importance of inspiring students with the desire to learn. TCC’s grant proposal focuses on techniques that put the students in learning communities to study of humanities and reinforces traditional coursework in math and reading,” said Krista Schumacher, director, Grant Development and Compliance Office, TCC.
TCC’s goal is to increase retention and graduation for students in the first two years of college who face the most challenges. Oklahoma is 20th in the nation in the number of high school graduates, yet it ranks 44th in the nation in the number of college graduates.
“TCC is already on the cutting edge of ensuring everyone who wants to attend college can go,” said Tom McKeon, Ed.D, president and chief executive officer, TCC.
“We want to make sure when they attend they have a high success rate and that they can transfer to achieve higher degrees easily.”
TCC will create the Reflective, Integrated, Scholarly, Excellent (RISE) program to increase the chances of eligible TCC students achieving academic success, graduating, and successfully transferring to a college or university. Some 160 students a year will be part of the program through the achievement of specific goals set out in the grant proposal.
The RISE-developed humanities curriculum will be based on various models of teaching humanities as a form of leadership, self-advocacy, and interpersonal skill development, according to Schumacher.
In addition to benefiting from traditional tools like advisement, career exploration, tutoring, and mentoring, students in the RISE program can improve their chances of academic success using innovative programs like an eight-week summer bridge program for new freshmen and students needing extra assistance; “block enrollment “(creating a supportive peer network by grouping students in the same classes); service learning; and a structured first year curriculum that contains a humanities and developmental education English “learning community.”
“By 2010, low-income and first-generation students may comprise 60% of the college’s total student body. Many of these students lack any kind of supportive environment. This is extremely vital to student success, and TCC’s RISE program provides that encouragement and motivation.
“Most importantly, these students will know that someone believes in them and is willing to work closely with them to achieve success,” said Schumacher.