Equity in Action: SEEK program at Lehman College sets high expectations for all students

by | May 2, 2018 | Blog

The Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program at Lehman College serves approximately 900 students each year. As of fall 2017, 96 percent of SEEK students were in good academic standing. The program’s six-year graduation rate of 52 percent is slightly higher than the six-year graduation rate of about 50 percent for students not enrolled in the program, according to the City University of New York.

The SEEK experience at Lehman College begins with a five-week summer immersion program prior to students’ first year. During the summer, students participate in workshops that prepare them for the CUNY Basic Skills tests in reading, writing and math, as well as attend critical inquiry and college-level science and math workshops. The summer program also provides students in the nursing and pre-med programs with the opportunity to take biology and math “jumpstart” workshops that preview the material they will be exposed to in the introductory level classes during the academic year. In addition to academics, the program also provides students with information about resources available on campus and matches students with peer mentors.

The SEEK program at Lehman has a culture of high expectations for all students, which is reinforced through the SEEK counseling program. Each SEEK student is assigned a counselor who they work with throughout their time in the program. Counselors are matched with students based on their intended majors/minors. Counselors meet with all students at three designated points throughout the semester. The first session at the beginning of the semester is focused on goal setting. The second session in the middle of the semester is an opportunity to check in on academic progress and financial aid. The third session at the end of the semester provides a recap of the semester and planning for the next semester. In addition to the designated one-on-one sessions, counselors remain in touch with students throughout the year through email, text and phone calls. Counselors work with students to develop an academic plan that is revisited throughout a student’s time in the program.  Each student is also provided with a “Keys to Success” document that lists all of the areas that students should be focusing on while in college, including academics, personal development and professional development. Counselors and students review this document together during their sessions.

During the fall and spring of students’ first year, SEEK students participate in mandatory supplemental instruction, which are 50 minute review sessions for courses that have higher than average fail or withdrawal rates. All SEEK first-year students also participate in a SEEK seminar, which is taught by SEEK counselors and focuses on life and college skills.

All SEEK students have access to supplemental instruction in courses that are traditionally most difficult as well as individual tutoring and small group tutoring. Students who are on academic alert or probation are required to participate in supplementary instruction and tutoring.  Students are provided with metrocards to help them with transportation costs. All SEEK students also have access to online review of papers and essays. After their first year, SEEK students have access to winter and summer tuition-waived credit-bearing courses.

The SEEK program places a great emphasis on monitoring student performance and activities. The program collects and reviews data, including high school transcripts, SAT scores, Regents exam scores, CUNY placement test scores, attendance, course registration and grades and financial aid. The program also administers student surveys to develop a better understanding of their interests, needs and feedback on the programs being offered.  The data collected is used to identify students who require immediate attention, such as a student who has not yet registered for the semester. The data is also used to identify trends and patterns that can shape SEEK programming. For example, a course with a high fail or withdrawal rate could signal that offering supplemental instruction in that subject would be beneficial to SEEK students.

Throughout their time on campus, SEEK students are encouraged to participate in college activities and community service as well as internships. In addition to the peer mentorship program, SEEK upperclassmen with 3.0 or above GPAs are eligible to apply to become SEEK tutors.