(SUNY Geneseo/Keith Walters '11)
SUNY Geneseo has launched Geneseo Points of Support (GPS), a program that helps students address critical problems by providing them with guides who assist with navigating unfamiliar institutional processes. Spurred by the college’s committed retention efforts, the program is especially geared toward students who lack experience or support in understanding how colleges and college offices work.
“We know that students often hide problems like family crises, financial issues, or social concerns because they are unaware of college services that can assist them,” said Celia Easton, dean of academic planning and advising. “All of us want to help students succeed, but if it’s going to take a while to assist the student, it’s too easy for them to slip off the radar of a busy office.” By contrast, a GPS guide is responsible for one student at a time. They can help figure out what questions to ask, set reminders to resolve issues, and stick with a student until their problem is resolved.
Examples of student problems appropriate for the GPS program are struggles paying for college or understanding payment options; connecting with faculty if a student has three exams on one day; re-connecting to classes after being away for medical or family crises; communicating with residence life, dining services, health and counseling services, or university police; organizing documents to apply for academic accommodations; or thinking about taking a leave of absence.
Faculty and staff can now use a GPS Referral Form to recommend students to the program. Requests must come from members of the Geneseo community on behalf of students; it’s not yet possible for students to make their own requests for assistance.
The program trains volunteers from the Geneseo campus community as guides to provide short-term mentoring to help individual students manage their acute problems.
Guides are not like traditional, long-term mentors with whom students create an ongoing relationship, nor are they experts in every area, explains Easton. Instead, GPS Guides step in like caseworkers and help a student articulate their needs, develop problem-solving skills, talk to the right people in the right offices, and stay committed to finding a solution, whether that takes a day or a couple of weeks.
“GPS Guides can supplement—they do not substitute for—offices that assist students on a daily basis,” said Easton.
Faculty and staff members interested in learning more about the program or registering to become GPS Guides should visit Geneseo Points of Support Guide Application.
To refer a student to the GPS program, visit the GPS Referral Form.