SSS aims to increase retention, graduation rates


CW/ Kallie Chabla

Jeffrey Kelly, Contributing Writer

For 44 years, the Student Support Services TRiO program, located in Russell Hall at The University of Alabama, has strived to help first generation college students, students with limited family income and disabled students.

The Student Support Services’ (SSS) mission is to increase the retention and graduation rates of students involved.

The program is a federally funded TRiO program, which are federal outreach and student services programs used to identify and provide services for individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

SSS offers many different opportunities for their students, including tutoring, advising on matters such as finances, personal concerns, career opportunities, academics, graduate school preparation, peer mentoring, professional school exam prep and various workshops and seminars.

The program has offered financial literacy workshops, stress relief techniques seminars, golf clinics, writing center tutoring and a trip to see “The Drowsy Chaperone,” a musical done by the UA Theatre and Dance Department, among many others.  

“[SSS] helps people that maybe need more assistance, as far as tutoring and stuff like that, and it gives us good access to computers so we can learn,” said Jessica Thompson, a junior majoring in criminal justice who has been in the SSS program for a year.

Thompson said the guidance that students receive from SSS is the most important thing for her.

“They have such a great group of people that talk to you and help you with the things you need,” Thompson said.

Tywain Griffen, a student counselor for the SSS program, said the program focuses on helping students with their academics, which it does in different ways.

“Our main focus is to provide academic coaching, academic advising, motivation and engagement to our students throughout their time with the University,” Griffen said.

Griffen said SSS gets involved in social events, cultural events and volunteer activities. He works with the SSS student advisory board to figure out what the latest trends are and what functions the students want the program to host, which allows students to have an active role in SSS.

“It’s a good thing because not only will students come here and see us when they have any issues, or they need help focusing on their task, focusing on academic achievements, they actually come in sharing these different ideas that they’d like to do,” Griffen said.  

SSS chooses events depending on its assessment of the latest trends, what students know and do not know, their strengths and weaknesses, and the ideas students have shared, Griffen said.

“There is no limit to the number of events we do,” he said. “The sky’s the limit, whatever it is that we can do, we do.”

Griffen said a lot of their ideas are for students to relax, such as Motivational Mondays, a recurring coffee hour where students can relax and receive light refreshments. However, the most important thing SSS wants to do with these events is help students with academic skills, teach them to take advantage of their resources on campus and build relationships, so students involved know SSS is there for them no matter what.

Glenn Miller, a senior majoring in management information systems who works for the Capstone Center for Student Success as a student leader and is apart of the SSS program, said the full-time staff that works for SSS is amazing and equips SSS students with resources they can take advantage of on campus.

“They are willing to do and help students with pretty much anything, or at least give them resources they can utilize on campus,” Miller said.

Miller said SSS is a beneficial program for the students involved.

“I would definitely say it’s a great program that students can best benefit from,” Miller said.

For those who are interested in joining and indulging in the events SSS has to offer, go to to check your eligibility and then apply online.