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BIOGRAPHY

Rachel Bobbitt

Rachel Bobbitt serves as the coordinator of student programs for Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Since 2007, she has coordinated college-wide recruitment programs and has advised the Agri-Techsans, the official student recruiters for the college. Bobbitt received her bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State University and master’s degree in agricultural education from Texas Tech. She is currently completing her doctorate in agricultural education at Texas Tech.

OP-ED ON FILE

  • The Critical Role of Scholarship Funding: Scholarship support to attract top academic scholars is essential to accomplishing our goals of quality growth. By Jane Piercy
  • A Vital Resource For the Future: Baccalaureate degrees in Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are key to providing the science-based expertise necessary to ensure economic viability. By Michael Galyean
  • The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture: ‘If there is no guarantee the farmers can keep their land, then no farmer will be concerned with any long-term benefits from the land.’ By Kevin Redwine
  • Career Opportunities in Agriculture: ‘We need professionals that can stand up for the agriculture industry to protect the quality of life for our growing society.’ By Lori Dudley
  • Boosting Student Retention: CASNR’s Student-Centered Programs, Faculty-Based Advising Key Student Success By Rachel Bobbitt
  • Dollars and Sense: The Long-Term Economic Value of Higher Education and Research By Eduardo Segarra and Sukant Misra
  • A Historical Perspective: America’s Founding Fathers Established the Importance of Agricultural Education by Steve Fraze
  • The Ties That Bind: Forging New Links from the Farm to Natural Resource Management by Philip Gipson
  • Agricultural Research: Carrying the Water for U.S. Competitiveness by Darren Hudson
  • A Global Priority: Education and Research in Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources by Sukant Misra

ABOUT THE COLLEGE

  • 1,577 Undergraduates
  • 350 Graduate Students
  • 76 Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty
  • $46.1 Million Total Endowment
  • 16 Endowed Professorships & Chairs
  • $1.9 Million Scholarship Awards
  • $10.2 Million Research Funding

Boosting Student Retention
CASNR’s Student-Centered Programs,
Faculty-Based Advising Key Student Success

By Rachel Bobbitt

It’s a tough row to hoe for kids in college today; especially those aiming at getting a degree that focuses on agriculture and natural resources degrees. You’ve probably heard that major agricultural universities like ours here on the High Plains have helped to create a society where less than 2 percent of our citizens produce the food required to keep the remaining 98 percent at the dinner table.

The expertise to keep those full plates coming is needed now, and even more so in the future as the world’s population continues to climb. But our students are facing a swath of pressing challenges from new technologies to changing student demographics. Moreover, there are rising demands for greater accountability, coupled with rising concern about the increasing cost of higher education. Our responses to these challenges will shape our role in the higher education system, which is why we’ve chosen the path of staying student-centered in all aspects.

Student-Centered. What’s it mean to be student-centered? Well, first it means having services ready, open and tailored to the students’ needs. Second, it’s a pledge to educate the “whole student” and prepare society-ready graduates. And, third, a student’s personal interests and career goals must be fostered by empowering them to enhance their personal, intellectual and social development. The foundation for this process here in the Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, CASNR for short, has been development and expansion of the Dr. Bill Bennett Student Success Center.

Here on the front lines we’ve noticed that our students encounter three major transitions related to their higher education experience. The first is simply transitioning into a higher education setting itself. Next is completing a long gauntlet of classes to get their degree. Finally, it’s moving into their chosen career. For a successful outcome, it takes considerable support along each transition point. For instance, we’ve made the combination of personalized instruction and attention to students a standard.

‘The Whole Person.’ Indeed, we take pride in offering small classes to help students develop one-on-one relationships with their professors and classmates. It’s part of our commitment to the development of “the whole person.” While studies take top priority, we haven't forgotten that college is a time for fun, friendships and personal growth, too. As a result, we offer dozens of ways to join and enjoy the campus community, especially in terms of making a connection between in-class learning and out-of-class experience. Our college alone has more than 30 clubs, organizations and competitive teams that offer students an opportunity to meet other individuals with similar interests, compete in interscholastic contests, and gain leadership experience.

Why’s that important? In a word: student retention. When students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to develop cooperative relationships, student retention increases. Multiple studies have also found that quality academic advising is vital in determining academic success, along with boosting the probability of graduating on time. While CASNR and the Student Success Center have a number of programs to keep our retention rate high (82 percent), academic advising is a key piece in that retention puzzle.

Student Advising. For our faculty, student academic advising is a rigorous, time-consuming task, but it’s one in which they take pride. With a faculty to student ratio of approximately 13:1, they know it’s an opportunity to influence and direct student academic progress on a personal basis. But advising is more than just selecting courses. CASNR’s Student Success Center provides a broad range of programs and services to help students reach their academic goals and to enhance their personal, intellectual and social development.

Still, students must take an active part in their education. We can offer a helping hand at any point along the way, but the ultimate responsibility is theirs. When those students take advantage of the kind of services we offer, they’ll feel more connected to their surroundings through relationships with classmates, faculty and staff, and they’ll be more likely press forward.