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Giving

Q&A with Dawn Abt-Perkins, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Success

Loyalty Circle recently sat down with long-time professor Dawn Abt-Perkins, PhD, who has a new role: Associate Dean of the Faculty for Student Success. We asked her about her new job and for advice about how to be successful at college.

Why does the College need someone to focus on student success?
“A liberal arts education for parents and students today is an investment they guard closely. Both want signs of success early in the college experience for reassurance that they made the right choice. Students today are less tolerant of ambiguity and of learning from failure. They have been rewarded for making “good choices,” not necessarily for taking on challenges and then learning from failure and rebounding from these. Parents today are much more highly involved in their students’ college experiences and choices than in the past. Sometimes, this can make the student less confident about making decisions or even less confident about relying on college advisors. So I am another resource—in addition to their academic advisors— for students and their parents to consult. They need more reassurance.”

What will you do in this role?
“Most of my work focuses on providing first-year advisors and students with as much information as we can about which courses to take first semester and how to pace themselves to minimize course withdrawals and to allow time to adjust to college life. I also oversee academic support services, which includes learning support for students with learning disabilities, the Writing Center, and the Quantitative Resource Center.”

What’s your key advice for students starting college?
“Give your full attention to the college experience. There are many ways and places to earn a degree, but only a few special places, like Lake Forest College, that offer the opportunity to grow in ways you cannot even imagine. This transformation cannot happen if you have one foot in your high school life. It will take effort and overcoming fear to become comfortable with vulnerability and seeking help. We are here to guide you.”