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Welcome and congratulations on starting or continuing on your path to a college degree!
PALS, or Personalized Applied Learning Strategies, is a new personalized academic support program that is free for all Western students we are piloting this summer.
Students across all programs and enrolled in any course can benefit from additional support at some point in their college career. Together, students and Learning Commons staff create a personalized academic plan and schedule to best meet the students’ needs and goals.
The Learning Commons, as part of the Division of Learner Support and Transition, offers these four levels of support to best serve students as they figure out their strengths, goals, and needs for success. PALS is offered both online and in the Learning Commons, located on the 2nd floor of the Student Success Center. Until we return to campus, allaspects of PALS are held online.
All levels are free and ungraded!
All PALS Levels are Free to Students!
Sessions designed to help prepare students for a difficult course they’ve registered for in the next term. This pre-work occurs before the start of that course. Students and staff decide together a reasonable schedule to pre-load some course material in order to increase the student’s comfort level prior to the start of their next course.
A workshop designed to support students as they regroup and refocus after a difficult chapter in their life ,or failing quiz or test grade. Students typically work 1:1 with a Learning Commons staff person for 4 hours total, typically over a 1-2-week period.
A term-long, appointment-based support sessions where students and staff build an academic plan and a study schedule together. Students in PALS Level 2 get ongoing support throughout the term to best ensure success in one or more courses. Students typically work 1:1 with a Learning Commons staff person for at least 1 hour per week.
Similar to Level 2, but students receive additional support due to added pressures to meet reentry, financial aid, academic warning, and academic probation requirements. Students typically work 1:1 with a Learning Commons staff person for 1-4 hours per week.
PALS Student Success Story
Meet Jill! A PALS Student
This summer, Jill* returned to school 12 years after graduating from high school. She has been busy working second shift in a factory as well as caring for her three children. “College was something I tried once, but I don’t think I was ready for it. This time around, I want something different for myself and I want to show my kids they can make a change and make their lives better if they want to. I want to teach them that.”
A career coach recommended Jill for PALS when she registered for her first classes this summer. They both felt having a plan for additional support in place would be helpful in Jill’s transition to college.
“I really wasn’t sure what Blackboard even was or if I remembered how to write papers; I wasn’t even sure I could do online classes. I was never that bad at school or anything, but it wasn’t really my thing either. Plus, I’ve been out for a while. No one else in my family, besides some cousins, went to college. My family is really supportive of me going back to school though.”
Kirsten and Jill spoke on the phone a few days after Jill’s appointment with the career coach. Wanting to try a virtual face-to-face meeting, Kirsten walked Jill through the steps of joining a Zoom meeting and they spoke for about 30 minutes about learning and Jill’s past experiences with school, and about specific goals she had for her summer classes and beyond.
Now, Jill is in her fourth week of working 1:1 with a Learning Commons staff person on weekly assignments. “It’s helpful to know that I have someone to ask questions—not only about my assignments, but also about other things. The big issue I’ve been having is finding time for everything I have to do for school, work, and at home. [My PALS session] is just once a week, but I look forward to it. I feel like I’m doing something good for myself and that I have some extra support if I need it.”
*Name has been changed.
How to Enroll in PALS
How do students enroll in PALS?
Advisors, coaches, instructors, and administrators can assist students with the referral process at the time of course registration or at any point in the term. Students may also self-refer by informing their advisor, coach, instructor, by contacting the Learning Commons or directly email Kirsten Daykin.
Instructors: be on the lookout for more information on PALS and the referral process!