Illustration by Rebecca Karpinski

Illustration by Rebecca Karpinski

By Adrianna Caraballo, Staff Writer

Success is a word that can be easily said but hard to define. It is so hard to define because its definition varies based on the values and morals of that certain person, yet Bergen Community College offers a whole class called IST-123, or better known as Success 101. Currently, the class is mandatory for all students who placed into EBS-101 (English Basic Skills) and Developmental Math. Some students feel that the class would be better suited for all first-year students to take and not just those who placed into remedial classes. “The course provides students with direction through career exploration, self-assessment and goal setting while strengthening written and oral communication skills.” said Torres.
However helpful this class might be, there have been issues with allowing students to take the class before taking the developmental courses. According to Chairperson of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Alan Kaufman, “Two years ago in the summer, students were allowed to take IST-123 (Success 101) before taking developmental English placements. That’s a violation of college policy approved by the Board of Trustees. You cannot take 100 level credit courses if you have an EBS requirement.”
According to EBS policy, students are required to take their EBS classes their first semester. If students dropped their EBS class, they would have to drop from the other classes as well. “With the creation of The First Year Experience course, students may take either class first, and each course supports the other. Many EBS and IST classes are integrated into learning communities where Student Success is the number one priority,” said Torres. This allows students to take both a developmental class and an IST class at the same time.
Although aware of all the issues surrounding the class, the staff does not want to give up on the Success 101 class just yet. “Our goal with this subcommittee is to revisit the information on what we have by conducting more surveys with students and the faculty who are teaching the course,” said Professor Brian Cordell. Feedback from students of this course is highly valued since there is a great effort being made to reform it. “I think that the decision to be patient with this course shows good faith on part of the faculty,” said Kaufman. The hope and faith in this course was also solidified by Cordell. “We do feel like there is value here in this course,” said Cordell.

The course closely follows the ideas and principles of Skip Downing, the writer of the required book for the class “On course.” Downing believes there are certain qualities that make a successful student, such as accepting personal responsibility and developing emotional intelligence. These are concepts that one would think come naturally to others, and can almost be considered common sense. The sad truth is that many people, not just students, struggle with concepts such as those. “The Success 101 class is essential to students because it focuses on strategies, habits and values necessary for students to achieve success in college,” Torres said. Students are required to look deep into themselves and write about the strengths and weakness surrounding their lives, among other things. BCC student Julia Young gave a student’s perspective of the class. “I found it very useful, it was a laid back class and I found the journals interesting because they asked me questions about myself I hadn’t thought about. As a student, I liked it for pointing out what I was lacking for staying on track.” On top of its regular assignments, there were some that are created for the professors to get to know the students better. “Some were very personal. But I didn’t mind, I understood that asking those personal questions can help teachers see if their students are going through a rough time and may need a counselor or just someone to vent to,” said Young.