Written by Joe Fisk
Illustration by Madison Otten
TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS) provides support and services in career navigation, academic or transfer needs, personal development, and finance at FRCC Westminster. With 34 of last year’s TRIO students graduating, there are open spots to fill. Elizabethe Plante, TRIO counselor, hopes to help students graduate or transfer to a four-year school successfully.
“Our goal is to help first-generation college-bound students who are from low-income families get into college,” said Plante. “For us, they’re already here. So, it is to help get through college in a timely fashion successfully. Then to launch either successfully into their career or on to a four-year school.”
TRIO can provide support through financial aid problems, help applying for scholarships, and financial literacy strategies.
“We help them apply for financial aid,”said Pante, “and all of the verification paperwork, or if they have some kind of [financial aid] appeals process they need to go through, we help them with that.”
In career navigation, TRIO helps students find information on the job market, pay levels of jobs, or knowing what tasks they will perform in the career they pursue.
“What careers are likely to be around in five years when you graduate?” said Plante. “What does the job market look like? What do you need for educational skills and experience? It’s all providing them with that type of information and helping to prepare them for that career.”
TRIO provides help with academic and transfer needs by helping students pick classes, fill out transfer applications, or with general studying and time management skills.
“We help them come up with an academic plan for every semester they are here,” said Plante. “We help them with applications, or application fees… studying or managing time… to be successful academically. Even if it’s just knowing what classes are needed to graduate.”
Linda Valdez, both a student of the program and a TRIO peer mentor, found TRIO helpful when challenged by a class.
“It was through TRIO that I was able to obtain a tutor and it was free of charge,” said Valdez, “If I wouldn’t have had a tutor, I don’t know that I would have been able to pass my statistics class.”
TRIO provides support through personal development in areas beyond academics, such as organization and stress management.
“What does it mean to not only be a good student academically but a good citizen of the world?” said Plante. “What ‘soft skills’ do students need that are better predictors of success and life in the world of work than just your academic skills? Those are things like how you manage time and stay organized, how you manage and engage stress.”
Students in TRIO meet with a coach, attend workshops, and even meet with a peer mentor. TRIO’s support and services are there to help students be academically successful.
“How we do that is through one-on-one coaching,” said Plante, “They have to go to two workshops each semester in any of those four areas, and they have to meet once with a peer mentor. People like Linda [Valdez] have hacks that they understand about navigating the system, academics and getting cheaper books. They can give that insider knowledge as a student.”
To qualify for TRIO, students must qualify for financial aid, be first-generation college students, and/or in some sort of academic need. Students can find more information or schedule a meeting with a TRIO counselor at L269.