The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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ExCEL program helps students

School, midterms, research papers, the current economic crises, stress, relationship problems, all are like ticking time bombs waiting to go off. With the daily pressures a student faces, it can cause problems with concentration, leading many to fall behind on their academic work.

When students are not able to perform academically well, students are placed on academic probation when their GPA falls below the required level.

RISE (Rise, Succeed, Invest, and Enjoy) was created under the ExCEL (Experience Confidence and Enjoyment Learning) umbrella group as the need for a program to help students who have been placed on academic probation, or students who are simply struggling with their work, became apparent. The program is located on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall.

“We realized that people being on academic probation, at this point, has probably a little more pressure than it had in the past. And so people will be a little more serious about wanting to take some steps to get off of probation or not get on academic probation,” said Mark Stevens, director of University Counseling Services (UCS).

UCS developed RISE because of the demand for students to resolve and succeed in their academic studies, and it is especially geared towards students who are at risk in their academic studies.

“For us, we wanted to develop a group that address a lot of the struggles that we see in students who may be on probation and who may not be doing as well as they want academically,” said Dr. Lideth Ortega-Villalobos, staff psychologist at UCS. “We wanted to talk about both study habits and how they feel about themselves, as learners, their self-confidence, the challenges they have to cope with and manage on day-to-day bases. So we wanted the program to be both about doing better academically and about being healthier as a person.”

Dr.Ortega-Villalobos explains that ExCEL is a program dedicated to address the needs of students. If people are having family or relationship problems, it’s bound to affect their work.

ExCEL is focused on helping students understand their learning techniques, increasing a student’s strength academically in order to overcome their struggles, boosting a student’s confidence in school, asking for help, and maintaining a balance between life, school, and their personal lives.

Daisy Beltran, 22, said she had no idea this program existed and thinks it’s extremely beneficial for students, as well as for her.

“No, I have never heard of ExCEL. So far it sounds interesting. I wouldn’t mind attending one of the meetings,” said Beltran, a senior double majoring in psychology and Central American Studies. “Anything that will help my studies is greatly appreciated and it would benefit them (students) in not procrastinating, and staying in control of their school work.”

RISE is one of the newest programs this fall under ExCEL and its first official meeting was held on Oct. 15. It will be a weekly group, meeting every Thursday until the end of the semester.

It started this semester and it will teach students to find out what’s preventing them from asking for help and boost their confidence level when it comes to learning new and difficult materials.

“We are going to be looking at some of the boundaries, roadblocks that they have about asking for help. We’re going to take a look at what kind of confidence they have about learning new and difficult material and hopefully increasing their confidence that they are going to be able to learn new and difficult material and ideally put more effort into their work,” Stevens said.

In its first semester, RISE is going to focus on four things. First, it’s going to discover the how and why students got into academic risk and to examine the cause of why they got into academic probation.

The second goal is to help students understand their learning style. “We all have different learning styles, and sometimes our learning styles match with our classes and sometimes they don’t,” Ortega-Villalobos said. “And those times when we are feeling challenged and the learning style that is accepted is different from where we’re at, can be really tough semesters.”

Thirdly, it will focus on health and wellness. Questions like, “how are we taking care of our bodies and our brains?” will be targeted and discussed. Oretga-Villalobos explained that our brain is large a instrument that affects our learning and sometimes it’s running on empty.

Lastly, Oretga-Villalobos explained it will deal with managing life. Is your life school friendly? Discussion of time management, procrastination, and distraction will take place.

“We wanted to be a broad program, but that it helps the students look at the learning process in more manageable and effective ways,” Oretga-Villalobos said.
RISE will start with a minimum of six to 15 students. There they would be given mini-lectures from psychologists and have the opportunity to share within the group or with pairs, or in small groups, in whatever setting they feel comfortable. They too are also responsible for taking care of themselves, as well as asking for help within the group, and in turn they will receive support from the group and other students.

“I hope they will get gain some confidence that they can see themselves as better students than they see themselves presently. They would find a way to enjoy their learning process more,” said Stevens.

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