Student Support Services (S^3) is increasing its hours and has tweaked its readmission process, following a review of the program during the 2009-2010 academic year. Two deans are now available to help with new walk-in hours, provided 9–10 a.m., Monday through Friday, and the office will be open on Tuesdays until 7 p.m.
The changes come as S^3 makes it a priority to improve the accessibility of its services, following recommendations from staff during a review process last year. Associate Dean David Randall, who manages S^3, said that S^3 should serve as “a hub of resources, referrals, and information across the MIT community,” and that this ideal is reflected in the changes.
A revamped website was launched yesterday, providing more detailed descriptions about the services offered at the office and increasing awareness of S^3’s services.
Randall was especially positive about the new Tuesday hours. “This change is especially exciting because the extra hours are available when students are generally not busy with classes,” he said.
S^3 also made changes in student readmission, so that readmitted students could adapt more easily to social and academic challenges. The readmission application now requires students to plan their course load for each semester until graduation. The advisor who reviews the application and writes a recommendation must also comment on the student’s planned academic schedule.
“The changes encourage students to have a more substantive relationship with their advisors during the readmission process,” explained Randall.
Deadlines for readmission applications are two weeks earlier than in the past, allowing students to receive a reply earlier and easing the visa application process for international students. S^3 also aims to be proactive about working with readmitted students throughout the semester.
S^3 also combined leave of absences and voluntary withdrawals into one category. Randall noted that there was much overlap between the two programs, so removing one form of absence would increase efficiency without harming students’ ability to withdraw as needed.
Many of the other changes involved refining the internal processes within S^3 and did not directly impact the services that the staff provided for the students. Most notably, S^3 is now under the umbrella of the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, as part of the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming, Previously it had been part of the Division of Student Life.
S^3 has also formulated its mission statement and confidentiality agreement to reaffirm its duties and responsibilities. The new confidentiality agreement states that S^3 “will not share information disclosed during meetings,” but that sometimes “information needs to be shared with MIT faculty or staff, parents, or health care providers” with the consent of the student. The changes in the written policies do not describe actual changes in S^3 operates; they simply clarify and make explicit some long-held S^3 policies, Randall said.