Two staff members from SUNY Canton’s Advising and First Year Programs office come to work dressed in colorful costumes during the tenth week of classes every semester. They roam around campus dressed as gnomes, aliens, superheroes or other characters with the specific goal of getting students to register early for their next semester classes.
“We started doing this as a fun way to get students’ attention,” said Sharon Tavernier, director of the Advising office. “Then we realized that we were talking directly to about 500 students on that day. We also use the pictures of us in costume as a way to get the word out on social media, casting that influence even wider.”
Since Tavernier and her colleague Marianne P. DiMarco-Temkin, the college’s retention specialist, began wearing costumes, about 20 percent more students have started registering earlier than in years past.
The two employees presented their innovative ways to connect with students and their overall successes at a recent National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) conference in Verona. Their conference session was so popular that they’ve been asked to present it again at the national NACADA conference held Oct. 14 in St. Louis, Mo.
“Sharon and Marianne’s advocacy helps students sign up earlier, which further helps us anticipate the number of course sections needed each semester,” said SUNY Canton Provost Douglas M. Scheidt. “It is also really fun to see them dressed up.”
The Advising and First Year Programs office works with new and continuing students to help them understand their degree progress. They also administer the college’s First Year Experience and provide college success tips. They provide workshop opportunities for faculty advisors and orchestrate the Stellar Advisor Award, a chance for students to nominate their faculty advisors.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service and recently received number one rankings in library resources, library services and tutoring services in the SUNY Student Opinion Survey. The college’s faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 13 exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 15 athletic teams compete as members of the NCAA Division III.