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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Plus IconWhat happens after the on-line form is completed?

After the online enrollment has been submitted, students will receive an automated “Enrollment Confirmation” e-mail. Please retain this for your records.  If you do not receive an automated confirmation e-mail, this means that the enrollment was not received and the student is encouraged to resubmit the request and to follow up with empower@rit.edu . Please note that prior e-mail exchanges or phone calls expressing an interest in EMPOWER do not imply that the student is enrolled in the program.

 

NEW to EMPOWER students:

  • Will receive an invitation for an “Intake Appointment” in a follow up e-mail from empower@rit.edu to discuss the student’s academic history, areas of strength, opportunities for improvements as well as goals to be set for the semester.  All official communication is done through the student’s RIT e-mail account.

Returning students:

  • Have the opportunity to alter weekly meeting frequency (switch from Level 2 to 1, or vice versa).
  • May continue to work with the same mentor or, based on availability, choose to work with a different one.

A student’s assigned mentor will reach out to schedule a first Empower meeting. Mentors have access to students’ course schedules and will propose a time that should work for both parties.

FAQ Plus IconI am an NTID Supported Student. Can I participate in EMPOWER?

Pre-baccalaureate (AS);  A+B and AAS degree seeking students are asked to first discuss their interest in the program with their NTID Counselor/Academic Advisor to make sure that the student is aware of all services that are provided by NTID. After that meeting, the NTID Counselor/Advisor will contact the Academic Support Center to confirm a student’s request.

NTID supported graduate and bachelor degree seeking students can follow the normal enrollment procedure. If applicable, students are asked to make arrangements for “Access Services” by contacting https://myaccess.rit.edu/

FAQ Plus IconHow am I billed for EMPOWER?

Program fees for EMPOWER are billed through Student Financial Services and are added to the student’s account. Please note, EMPOWER fees are non-refundable (i.e. student is a NO SHOW for appointments). In the case of voluntary or involuntary leave or withdrawal from RIT a refund may be made in accordance with Institute policy.

FAQ Plus IconCan enrollment levels be changed in the middle of the semester?

By mid-semester, mentors’ schedules are fixed and will not allow for an increase from Level 1 to Level 2. However, if a student continues with Empower, a level change can be requested during the open enrollment process for the following semester.  Please note that the student may have to change mentors.  Any decrease in enrollment level within the semester will follow the Institute Refund Policy.

FAQ Plus IconWhat happens during weekly EMPOWER meetings?
Each meeting is different and contingent on a student’s goals, attendance record and willingness to report academic updates. In general, however, meetings include the following:
  • Course UpdatesMentors will check on the student’s progress in each course, including class attendance, grades received and submission status of assignments.
  • Time Management: Mentors and students may address whether the student followed the plan that was outlined. Mentors will also check in to see what progress has been made in completing larger projects. Possible questions that may guide a conversations are:
  • "What assignments/tests/appointments or long-term projects are coming up?”
  • "What assignments or tasks need to take priority?”
  • "How can the student break down a large tasks and proactively create a plan to take necessary steps in a reasonable timeline?”
  • "When and where is the student going to designate time to complete work, social & recreational time?”
FAQ Plus IconAre EMPOWER meetings considered "confidential"?

Mentors may consult during staff meetings about student cases. Every effort is made to exercise discretion and to honor students’ privacy. When students share personal information that goes beyond the scope of academics, mentors may encourage or refer students to utilize campus resources for personal reasons. However, when a student discloses information pertaining to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct and/or sexual violence, students are advised that the Academic Support Center is a “Non-Confidential” resource. In other words, all RIT employees in “Non –Confidential” offices, including EMPOWER mentors, are required to report any Title IX disclosures to a Title IX coordinator. 

FAQ Plus IconI am a parent/guardian. Will I be contacted by EMPOWER and/or receive updates about my student?

The philosophy behind EMPOWER is to encourage self-advocacy and academic independence. Hence, students are typically encouraged to have direct communication with parents/guardians. During the initial “Intake Appointment” the student has the option to sign a “Program Release Form”, specifying a designated party (i.e. a parent, guardian) who would be granted permission to be included in conversations about the student. Some students may opt out and choose not to sign the release form. Please note that we are only able to communicate with parents/guardians/or designated person(s) if the student has signed our Program Release form, granting us permission to openly discuss information regarding his or her participation in EMPOWER. Parents/Guardians whose students have signed a “Program Release Form” will periodically receive general program updates that are not specific to any student.
 

If the student has signed a release form, EMPOWER will commonly contact parent(s)/guardian(s) if:

  • 2-4 appointments were missed without explanation.
  • the student shows signs of extreme academic distress or if we are concerned about a student’s safety.

The goal is to work together: students, parents/guardians and RIT support services, to make the best decision for the student’s long-term success and wellness.
 

If you have specific information about your student that you think would be helpful, the best primary contact is the EMPOWER e-mail address, empower@rit.edu. Your message will be forwarded to your student’s mentor, who may contact you for further details if needed. If you have an immediate concern about your student’s health or safety and/or it is after business hours, please contact RIT Public Safety’s emergency number at (585) 475-3333.

FAQ Plus IconHow is student progress and performance in their classes tracked?

EMPOWER is designed to support students in tracking their own progress by encouraging self-advocacy which is at the heart of the program’s philosophy. EMPOWER mentors do not have access to a professor’s attendance or grade records for classes. Mentors rely on the student to honestly report class attendance as well as grades received. When available, a mentor and a student may log on to myCourses, RIT’s course management software, to view the student’s progress in a particular course. However, this is not always available since posting grades on myCourses is up to each individual professor. The feedback process and timing is highly variable based on the preferences of each professor. Around mid-semester, students are encouraged to reach out to professors in an effort to receive feedback about their current academic standing. Once the student has a summary of his or her progress, the student may choose to send an e-mail to update parents/guardians/academic advisors.  Other students may choose not to do so. In the spirit of enhancing self-advocacy, students are encouraged to determine what is in his or her best interest. 
 

At the end of the semester, mentors submit a “Final Semester Report” of the student’s progress and projected student-reported grades for each course. Mentors also make recommendations for campus resources to use as well as whether or not a continuation with EMPOWER may be beneficial. Students and academic advisors will receive a copy of the report after final grades are posted in the Student Information System (SIS). For students who are enrolled in the fall, reports will be sent after the winter break. For students who are enrolled in the spring semester, final reports will be sent by the end of May. Parents/Guardians will receive a copy of the final report ONLY if the student has signed a “Release of Information” form.
 

Please note that participation in the EMPOWER program does not guarantee that your student will complete the semester successfully. While every effort is made to enhance a student’s progress, the commitment and implementation of academic strategies, time management, utilization of campus resources has to come from the student.

FAQ Plus IconHow long do students typically stay in the program?

EMPOWER is intended for short-term use in an effort to enhance students’ academic independence. However, the duration may vary from student to student.  At the end of the semester, mentors and students will explore other campus resources to consider (ASC Success Courses, for example) and mentors will make a recommendation in the “Final Semester Report” whether a continuation in the program may be in the student’s best interest.

FAQ Plus IconWho are EMPOWER mentors?

Empower mentors are dedicated, contracted professionals who work for the Academic Support Center.

Mentors are experienced in working with college-aged students at RIT and have a familiarity in working on general challenges associated with time management, organization and study strategies.  Empower mentors commonly work with 10-12 students during the semester.

FAQ Plus IconStudent Testimonials

What our students say about Empower:

  • “I really enjoyed the Empower program. It was very helpful to me and allowed me to work with the program in a way that fit my goals and work style very well. In the past I have disliked other similar programs because of how rigid they were in terms of sticking to a set program; with Empower I felt that everything was aimed towards helping me on my own terms, which made it much easier for me to stick with the strategies my mentor and I discussed.”
  • “I was able to manage my own time and study habits better after enrolling in Empower.”
  •  “Empower allowed for me actually stop and think about the different actions which could help to improve my performance in specific classes”.
  • “I enjoyed meeting with my mentor as a way to keep me accountable and ensure that I was regularly checking in and making progress with my academics and goals. The resources provided were very helpful in keeping me on-track, especially with regards to the time management resources, such as the weekly schedule, and making sure I knew of helpful on campus resources.”
FAQ Plus IconI am a parent. Should I enroll my student or should my student enroll him/herself?

In short, - the student should.  As a parent, you may see a benefit for your student to enroll in EMPOWER.  Your student, however, may not.  In order to make sure that your student is “on board”, please have a conversation so that both, you and your student, are familiar with the program’s objectives.  Then, provided that your student is interested and committed to being a willing participant, he/she is encouraged to enroll in EMPOWER.   

FAQ Plus IconWhen is the best time to enroll in EMPOWER?

In general, it is recommended for students to enroll as early as possible during the open enrollment period. Please check the enrollment information on the website.

FAQ Plus IconI am an RIT employee. Would RIT’s tuition waver cover the Empower fees?

Unfortunately, no. Tuition waver covers in-class instruction only. Empower is considered an individualized service and hence, does not qualify for the tuition waver.