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TRIO Provides Resources to Help Students Succeed


By Nichole Shanefelter College Information and Community Relations Intern

Pennsylvania College of Technology offers a bevy of support services to aid students as they face the many challenges of college life, and TRIO Student Support Services is one of the most all-inclusive and progressive programs on campus.

National TRIO Day is Feb. 28, and the federally funded program’s student-success stories are reason enough for celebration.

Serving 122 Penn College students per academic year, TRIO offers tutoring, peer coaching, general campus orientation, financial-aid help and even scheduling advice to traditional and nontraditional students.

Joette M. Siertle, coordinator for the TRIO program at Penn College, which is offered through Academic Support Services, says that, by working in conjunction with other on-campus offices like Counseling and Career Services, her staff is best able to cater to the needs of individual students.

“We do whatever we can for them to succeed,” she said.

The goal: to promote four-year degrees for those only aiming for two years of college and graduate school for those already enrolled in a bachelor-degree program. Through scholarship programs, TRIO is able to help with testing fees, application fees, campus visits and travel.

Landscape/Nursery Technology major Lisa A. Beehler of Williamsport can attest to the program’s worth.

“The TRIO staff has provided me with a math tutor, someone to always talk to and someone to always help,” she said. “Every time I have been there, I leave feeling better.”

Fundamentally, the program aims to build self-esteem, as well as strengthen study and time-management skills. One of TRIO’s first Penn College clients, Charlene F. Ebner of DuBoistown, is a third-year nontraditional student in the Applied Human Services major. While working toward her bachelor’s degree, she found the program to be an invaluable resource.

“They (the TRIO Support Services staff) were very flexible, and if they didn’t have the answer for me, they found the answer by utilizing other resources on campus,” she said.

As a tutor and a mentor, Ebner has worked to make others’ experiences with the program as rewarding as her own.

“Joette (Siertle) has been an inspiration for me and has always encouraged me to do my best,” Ebner said. “I just wanted to give back some of what they have given me throughout my time here.”

TRIO’s most popular form of assistance is tutoring. Student and professional tutors offer one-on-one help with trouble subjects as long as needed from developmental course work to senior projects. Some students who join TRIO as inexperienced freshmen stay with it until they are seniors. Others use it to get through a rough semester or two.

The program now boasts three laptop computers that can be signed out, tape recorders to borrow, TI86 calculators, math tutorials and plastic biology models.

The federal government requires mid-year and annual reports to show the percentage of TRIO students retained, as well as their academic status and graduation standings.

For more information about eligibility and the services offered by TRIO Student Support Services at Penn College, call (570) 326-3761, ext. 7460, send e-mail or visit on the Web.

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