COB Center for Student Success Doors Open

Published November 29, 2021

COB Center for Student Success Doors Open for the First Time Since March 2020 

On March 11, 2020, the CSULB campus community was informed that the university would be temporarily moving to alternative modes of instruction, causing the Center for Student Success to close our doors momentarily.

On March 11, 2020, the CSULB campus community was informed that the university would be temporarily moving to alternative modes of instruction, causing the Center for Student Success (CSS) to close our doors momentarily. We began training our Advisors, Student Assistants, and Tutors on how to provide services virtually via Zoom, not knowing what the next 18 months would hold.

From March 2020 to August 6, 2021, CSS continued to serve our students via telephone and Zoom. We conducted all our services remotely, finding a way to continue to serve and connect with our students when face-to-face interaction was not possible. For the first time, we offered Tutoring, Advising/Registration, Mandatory Advising Workshops, Learning Support Workshops, Graduation Workshops, Business Bootcamp, and COB “Get Down to Business” Day virtually through the dedication and commitment from our CSS Team to serve our students through the pandemic. 

One key member of our team, and a 2021 Dean’ Outstanding Sevice Award recipient, is Lizette Alvarez, Senior Lead Advisor/Student Success Specialist. Lizette's dedication to our students and their success has been a constant, but she has gone over and above during the pandemic. Within the first two weeks, she reconstructed COB tutoring services, trained our tutors, and had them ready to virtually provide tutoring services to our students, even during peak midterm and final exam season. Moving our in-person tutoring services was not an easy feat, but one Lizette accomplished very well.

In Summer 2020, Lizette developed and coordinated our Annual COB Business Bootcamp to help students transition into upper-division business coursework. This past year, she coordinated 31 different online workshop time options and 16 unique workshop topics. Bootcamp topics include Microsoft Excel, PowerBI basics, Python, data analytics and visualization, elements of business writing, how to use a financial calculator, time management, narrowing down a research topic, and stress management. Lizette brought in facilitators with experience and passion from Accountancy, Finance, and Information Systems, Departments as well as The Learning Center, University Library, Career Development Center, and Counseling and Psychological Services. Over 1,500 students participated in the workshops in both summer 2020 and 2021.

Through the pandemic, our Assistant Director/Outreach Coordinator, Maria Organista has worked tirelessly to develop and form our first COB Peer Advisor team with the support of HEERF funding. The COB Peer Advisor program is currently in its first semester and consists of 11 Peer Advisors. The COB Peer Advisor program has two main goals: 1) provide students with a point of contact within COB to help develop a sense of community and belonging, and 2) assist with the retention and persistence of COB students.

The Peer Advising (PAs) team is composed of current CSULB COB undergraduate students who support their fellow peers in maximizing their academic potential. PAs use their experiences as continuing CSULB students to provide virtual peer-to-peer advising and mentoring, direct students to campus resources, share success tips, and offer general academic support. PAs function as listeners, and motivational partners, but not as tutors, instructors, or parents. They are sounding boards for reflecting on current habits and brainstorming new ways to approach and overcome challenges.

The Peer Advising team was brought on board in summer 2021, where they assisted the Center for Student Success team in welcoming approximately 1,200 newly admitted COB freshmen and transfer students to their first semester as CSULB business students. Each COB freshmen has been individually assigned to a COB Peer Advisor who is responsible for meeting with their assigned advisees/mentees at least 3 times during the academic semester.

CSS has also had some changes in staffing. We welcomed Adam Schwartz as our new Assistant Director & Retention Specialist said farewell to COB Advisor Linda DeLange who retired, welcomed Tori Saruwatari as a new COB Advisor, and welcomed Adriana Franco back to COB as our COB Advisor-In-Training. Another addition is our first-ever Receptionist, Kelly DeSimas.

Finding a way to serve all 5,000+ undergraduate students created a challenge that our CSS Team was happy to achieve. We are currently working in a rotation, making sure our students are served in-person as well as virtually every day. When visiting our office, you may find an advisor having an in-person advising session, sitting at their desk working with a student via Zoom, or presenting an in-person workshop in one of our computer labs.

You will also find our COB Advisors working remotely and serving our students via Zoom weekly and through evening hours Monday through Wednesday, serving those who need assistance between 5-7 p.m. Providing these services to our students is an important part of our job, and we are extremely proud of our COB CSS Team and the service they provide our students.

As we continue to serve our students, we have started planning for the Spring 2022 semester and the return of all our students in-person. We will continue to provide mainly in-person services with some virtual options. We will re-introduce in-person tutoring services, while still providing virtual tutoring as well. Our CSS Team looks forward to having our students physically back on-campus in Spring 2022.