Kathryn Jarvis

Director of Academic Support
Office of Undergraduate Studies

Kathryn Jarvis has been an administrator and faculty member in private and public higher education for more than 30 years and currently directs Auburn's Academic Support office, which she helped establish in 1997. She also teaches first year seminar classes and college student development in Auburn's Higher Education graduate program. Before coming to Auburn, Jarvis served as the first dean of the faculty and later acting president at Beacon College, a small private college for students with learning disabilities. Prior to this appointment she taught undergraduate and graduate courses at Curry College and Lesley College Graduate School of Education. Jarvis received a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in communication disorders, a master's degree from Tufts University in education/child development and a Ph.D. from Florida State University in higher education.

1. What brought you to Auburn University?

In 1997, I was hired to establish the Academic Support department. The idea of beginning something new at a major university was exciting and I've always enjoyed the opportunity to help create new programs. When I first came to Auburn, I was impressed with the students I met. That continues to be the case.

2. In your opinion, what are the most important factors that impact a student's academic success?

I've found that most successful students work hard, and I mean really hard, to achieve their goals. It's interesting that a line from the Auburn University Creed mentions “work, hard work” because it articulates what I've observed all these years. Successful students also know when to ask for help and when to make necessary changes in their lives. This may be finding the right fit between skills and interests in selecting a major, hanging out with different friends or reaching out and getting involved in something outside the classroom.

3. How do the services provided by Academic Support aid students in the area of academic performance and success?

Academic Support manages Study Partners and Supplemental Instruction, both peer led study groups. The department also offers academic coaching, which is study skill development and strategy building, and Study Smart, a program for students in academic jeopardy. In addition, our office works with parents and numerous campus partners. All of these services are designed to provide Auburn students with the support necessary to achieve academically at the university. In addition, the peer leaders involved with the programs develop job skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and leadership, all which are highly valued in the employment arena.

4. In the last 15 years since you arrived on Auburn's campus, how have students changed?

I'm not sure that Auburn students have changed that much in the past 15 years. What has changed is the access students have to the world via technology, which can be good and not so good. With so much information out there it becomes difficult to sort out what is important. That sorting task is a major challenge of young adulthood and critical in the development of independence and identity. You need to learn to problem solve to make it in the world and if everything is taken care of immediately, you don't learn that feeling of competence. Also, when things are instantly available all the time, the expectation is that's the norm, which isn't quite true. It takes time and work to achieve. Auburn graduates have mastered these skills and go on to make significant achievements in the world - that hasn't changed.

5. What are your top five tips for students and parents in regard to academic success at Auburn University?

My top five are:

  • - Get to know people in your classes. You may find someone to study with who could be a big help. Besides, it's good to meet new people.

  • - Know your faculty by name and use their office hours. It pays off.

  • - Get involved with something out of class or in the community.

  • - Ask for help early - don't wait until you are in trouble, academically or personally.

  • - Find something you are really interested in that you can do well. Make sure it is a good fit with the skills you have to acquire and what it will take to make it happen.

  • Last Updated: May 13, 2013

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