Equity in Action: SUNY New Paltz Educational Opportunity Program supports incoming students from the start
The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at SUNY New Paltz serves approximately 600 students each year. SUNY reports that 81.3 percent of New Paltz EOP students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in six years.
The New Paltz program is one of the State University of New York’s Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), which provide academic, financial, and student support services to low-income students who are not academically prepared for college-level work. These programs can demonstrate college completion rates that approach or exceed that of non-participants.
The EOP experience at New Paltz begins with EOP-specific sessions during freshman orientation. Students are offered three to four sessions to choose from, which address topics such as academic requirements and the advising system. Students also take Math and English placement exams during the summer before freshman year.
Each student is assigned an academic advisor who they meet with over the course of their time in the program. Prior to their initial meeting, advisors review student records, including high school transcripts, Regents exams and SAT scores, as well as placement exam scores in order to develop a baseline understanding of students’ potential academic needs. Advisors meet with first-year students on an individual basis three to four times a semester and develop a graduation plan with students during freshman year. During their sessions together, advisors also focus on students’ social-emotional needs and pay close to attention to the extent that students are developing a sense of community and feel engaged on campus.
During the fall of freshman year students participate in a credit-bearing seminar course that is taught by their EOP academic advisor. The seminars address topics such as time management, research, note-taking skills, and test-taking skills. The seminars include a writing component and also expose students to different careers. Each section of the freshman seminar is taught at the same time to provide opportunities for plenary sessions that bring all EOP first-year students together.
Tutoring is mandated for all first-year students. Tutors typically have graduate degrees and provide tutoring in small group sessions.
EOP staff closely monitor student performance over the course of the semester. Advisors maintain regular contact with professors and also review student performance data throughout the semester. Students who are on academic probation are required to meet with their advisors eight times per semester. Tutoring is also mandated for students who are on academic probation.
For upperclassmen, SUNY New Paltz focuses on providing students with leadership development opportunities. Upperclassmen are provided with the opportunity to serve as peer mentors for first-year students. SUNY New Paltz encourages EOP students to study abroad and has been recognized nationally for supporting EOP students who study abroad. Upperclassmen are also encouraged to participate in internships.
SUNY New Paltz also encourages EOP alumni to connect with current students. A biannual conference is held on campus which provides alumni and current students an opportunity to meet.