“Success Labs” Aim To Make Positive Changes in Students’ Lives

Through a collaborative campuswide effort, the Undergraduate Probation Intervention Program (UPIP) addresses unique academic and personal challenges faced by sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The program includes a tailored personal success plan, one-on-one mentoring meetings, and a weekly series of holistic workshops aimed at making positive changes in our students’ lives.

Led by faculty, administrators, and experts in the field, the holistic workshops — called Success Labs — include a series of presentations, quizzes, and experiential learning opportunities. Topics include cognitive plasticity; advanced time management; sleep, diet, and fitness; resilience development series; mindfulness series; motivation and change series; help-seeking behavior; academic anxiety; personal development; academic skills and preparation for finals; money management; and vocational alignment.

During the summer of 2019, UPIP was offered to the inaugural class participating in The Arch at Rensselaer. Success Labs (ADMN 1824) was offered for the first time in a summer format throughout the 12 weeks on campus.  New this summer were consultations with the class dean, tutoring, and snacks, all offered in the same room as part of the Success Labs. Over the summer, 73 students attended the six-part series. Because only one class of students was on campus, Rensselaer staff and faculty were able to provide a valuable cohort experience to the course.

“The depth and amount of dialogue was unique to this group. Because they were all part of the same class, sharing similar experiences, students seemed much more comfortable with the topics and the presenters, and more importantly, with each other. Students reported goals ranging from increasing GPA to personal health to finding meaning in their classes. We value their time and willingness to invest in themselves,” said Louis Trzepacz, dean for Student Success and coordinator of the Success Labs.

Piloted in 2014 and institutionalized in the fall of 2015, the UPIP program has served nearly 1,000 students. Each workshop is assessed, before and after, and the success for the program is measured in the overall retention rate of participants. Since implementation, 90% of the students who participated in the program continued their studies at Rensselaer, climbing from 87% at the start of the program to 100% following the summer semester.

“The comprehensive nature of UPIP and Success Labs demonstrates Rensselaer’s commitment, as an Institutewide collaboration, to lifting our students to identify their aspirations and meet their greatest potential,” said Lisa Trahan, assistant vice president for student success.

Aligning closely with Rensselaer’s strategic plan, UPIP and Student Success Labs encourages a transformative and integrated class-based living/learning approach to support students in their social and personal growth, academic excellence, and preparation for leadership.

In 2018, NASPA, the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession, recognized Rensselaer’s work in lifting students to success through the UPIP and Success Labs by awarding the university the Silver Excellence Award for the Enrollment Management, Financial Aid, Orientation, Parent, Persistence, First-Year, and related categories.