Thanks to a new $1.42 million grant from the US Department of Education, the Student Support Services (SSS) Program at Ashland Community and Technical College will be able to continue to help students succeed in college. The grant of $284,754 a year for the next five years will provide services to 175 students annually.

For many new students, college is a foreign land filled with unfamiliar policies and procedures, course work challenges and financial constraints, said Megan Horne, SSS Director. Our program offers students an even playing field to begin their college experience. We help them navigate their way through college and onto graduation and employment.

Student Support Services is a federally funded TRIO grant program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The program serves at-risk students who have barriers to attaining a college education such as low income, disabilities or being a first generation college student.

We provide opportunities such as tutoring, mentoring, academic workshops, transfer visits and career trips, as well as academic, personal and career guidance, said Horne.

In SSS, students learn the importance of an education and the difference it can make in their lives. They learn to set career goals, manage their time and money, and feel good about themselves and their accomplishments. The program helps them to see that they can succeed.

When you get into SSS, you find out that giving up is not in the vocabulary, said Frank Donnelly, an ACTC graduate now working on a Bachelors Degree in Social Work. I received tutoring and then became a tutor so that I could help other students get the same satisfaction from getting a good grade in a hard course. Succeeding at something hard increases your confidence tremendously.

Our success rate is measured in terms of student grades, retention from one year to the next, graduation and university transfer, said Horne. Over 90% of our students achieve a Grade Point Average of 2.0 or higher, over 80% continue from year to year, 51% graduate and 27% transfer to a university to work on a bachelors degree. These rates are much higher than those achieved by the general college population.

Tutoring and mentoring by fellow students are important elements of SSS, but the most important element is often the personal touch

Beginning this fall, all new SSS students will be assigned to a SAGE who will help them transition into college, answer their questions, and provide them with encouragement. These students will also be expected to complete an introductory course called College Knowledge to help arm them with important information in their first semester.

Also beginning this fall, SSS will offer up to 11 college credits at no cost to participants for a variety of course topics including introduction to college, transfer planning, career planning, financial literacy and development of leadership. This new option for participants is supported by ACTC.

Many ACTC students meet guidelines for the SSS Program. Students learn about SSS through contact with other students, orientations, visits to classrooms, and referrals from faculty and staff. We take applications, invite selected students for interviews, and then follow that up with an intake session where we do an academic plan, Horne said.

For more information, contact Horne at (606)326-2074 or email: