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Student Success Center

The Student Success Center (SSC) at Avila is a collaboration among students, staff and faculty designed to enhance and further the academic and personal growth of Avila students. Located in Hodes Center (Building #8), the SSC encompasses a wide range of student services in one, centralized location:


  • Avila offers free, confidential counseling for your personal development.

  • We also offer career services for professional growth.

Information, resources, and assistance are available in person. You can also click here for details.

If you need emergency assistance, dial 911
Campus Public Safety
: 816.985.6079
MOCSA Rape Crisis Line: 816.531.0233
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-274-TALK (8255)


  • We provide services, accommodations, and programs to help students develop his/her unique potential. To find out how we can assist you, visit us in the Student Success Center, visit our webpage, or contact us at  

Daniel Weigel
Director: Student Success Office
Office: 816.501.3606  
Susan Winters
Disability and Student Success Associate
Office: 816.501.3666  

There are a number of loan options available to students. These include Federal Direct, Direct PLUS, Federal Perkins Loans, and private lender loans.

Each has its merits, limitations, and considerations. To better understand the loans and their terms and conditions, please stop by the Student Success Center in Hodes.


Avila’s Student Financial Services (SFS) team is your resource for All Things Money!  Visit with the team to discuss payments, refunds, FAFSA, student loans, grants, budgeting, work study, 1098T’s and more. 

For additional information visit our web page or email us at 


Paul Gordon
Director of Student Financial Services
Office: 816.501.3782  

Sarah Hendricks
Accounts Receivable Specialist
Office: 816.501.3735 

Maggie Lambi
Perkins Loan Coordinator
Office: 816.501.3741 

Paula Tarwater
Office Manager/VA Certifying Official
Office: 816.501.3781

  • As a student you have a number of tutoring services available to you!  These include one-on-one tutoring, group help, and online programs. Visit us in the Student Success Center to explore your options. You can also learn more and schedule a tutoring appointment.


Susan Winters
Office Manager
Office: 816.501.3666 
Paige Illum
Director of Student Engagement and Success
Office: 816.501.3760  

15 to finish

Avila wants you to graduate in 4 years!

For this to happen, you must finish 15 credit hours every single semester. Even though 12 hours is considered a full load, here's the disappointing truth: It will take 5 YEARS to finish at that pace.
Your time and tuition dollars can be better spent.

The 15 To Finish program was created to help students achieve academic goals in record time. And, believe it or not, research shows that students who take 15-hour course loads get better grades.
It's a total win!

Finishing on time will help you:

* Avoid extra debt

*Begin your career

*Get a jump on graduate school, travel, or volunteer work

*Impress potential employees with your hard work and discipline

15 To Finish also has built-in rewards. With every 15-hour semester you complete, Avila will high five you by upgrading your student status (good for discounts and special events!) and approving your 15 To Finish club membership (read: cookie study breaks, mini parties, and maximum fun!)

P.S. Summer classes are also a smart way to stay on track.
The whole idea is to complete 30 credit hours each year
(15 a semester is just a great way to get there!)

For more information about 15 to Finish, please contact Paige Illum, Director of Student Engagement and Success. 

Taking 15 hours of college credit a semester may sound like you're not going to have a life outside studying, but successful Avila students prove you can have it all -- friends, sports, volunteer opportunities AND an on-time graduation. 

Check out the videos below! They showcase Avila students who are on track to graduate, thanks to taking 30 credit hours each year. Yes, it can be done!


Your First-Year Experience at Avila University

Welcome to Avila University! Transitioning from high school to college is a big step in your life and we want to make it easy for you. 

New Student Orientation will answer a lot of questions you might have (and maybe some you haven't thought to ask!). New Student Orientation begins the Friday prior to the start of classes. For more information contact Office of Admissions. 

First-Year Seminar (FS 101) is a required course for all first-year students. Avila University has incorporated the The Common Reading Program into the seminar to help emphasize academic importance before classes even begin, and to assist in building community among the first-year class. Student Success studies clearly support the effectiveness of this program, and it's a rich way to start your college years. 

During your time here at Avila, we offer many services to support your well-being. These services include:

  • Avila Care Team--to help you with a crisis or if you have a concern about someone else.
  • Career Services--to help with your resume and job search.
  • Counseling Services--to assist if you ever feel a little homesick or simply need someone to talk to.
  • Disability Services --to encourage the development of your unique potential.
  • Health Services--to help keep you well.
  • Tutoring is FREE--it is offered both online and face-to-face for your convenience.
Tips for College Success

Tips for College Success

  • Go To All Orientations. The faster you learn your way around campus, the more at ease you'll feel and the better prepared you'll be when issues arise.
  • Get Involved. Have fun in school activities and join an organization or two. Stay on campus as much as you can to experience campus life.
  • Get Organized. Use your student planner to help you stay organized and plan ahead for tests. Set time aside for study, sleep, and extracurricular activities.
  • Don't Procrastinate; Pace Yourself. Give yourself deadlines -- and stick to them. Remember to take a break every once in a while so you don't get frustrated or burned out.
  • Get Connected. Make connections with other students in your classes. Not only will you make new friends, but you'll have people to contact for any missed notes or course questions. Know how to contact your professors and your advisor; they are there to help you.
  • Find the Career Center. Regardless of whether you are undeclared or have your entire future mapped out, people in the career center will help you get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future.
  • Stay Healthy. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, exercise, and eat right. Without mom or dad there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries or cookies. Try to keep your junk food and fast food to a minimum.
  • Watch Your Money. If you've never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Don't buy into all of those credit card scams. It is very easy to get behind FAST with a credit card; only spend what you have and try to save.
  • Study, Study, Study. Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done -- while avoiding as many distractions as possible.
  • Be Prepared To Feel Overwhelmed. You will be taking on a lot of responsibility your first year of college. Just remember to breathe and to know that you are not the only one feeling this way.
First-Year Seminar

First Year Seminar

First Year Seminar Goal Statement:

The goals of this course are to introduce students to academic and social knowledge, skills, and resources within the Avila community, and to encourage students' personal development through an exploration of personal values, Avila's mission, and global issues. Course goals will be achieved through readings, written analysis, and discussions.


Course Format:

This is a one-credit course based on a seminar format where the learning is of a collaborative nature. Through the use of small group and individual activities, students and instructors learn from one another. Course work includes, but is not limited to orientation events, class work, assigned readings, and writing activities.

The Common Reading Program


"A Deadly Wandering"

by Matt Richtel

Read cover letter here.

Read essay questions here.


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwame and Bryan Mealer


The Distance Between Us

"The Distance Between Us" by Reyna Grande


A Birmingham bombing survivor comes of age during the Civil Rights Movement.


"The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster" by Jonathan M. Katz


"They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" by Benjamin Ajak, Bensen Deng, Alephonsian Deng, & Judy Bernstein

The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan.


“The International Bank of Bob” by Bob Harris

Connecting our worlds one $25 Kiva Loan at a time.


"Unbroken" by Laura Hilenbrand
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption


"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer


  • The Millennium Development Goals Report
     - In 2000 the United Nations adopted eight goals in order to develop a framework for activities in over 190 countries to be achieved over a 15 year period of time. This section of the Report summarizes progress to date on the first goal, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. 
  • Always Enough: Heavenly Bread- This article provides a Christian perspective to the topic of hunger by connecting it to Bible scripture. 
  • Finding the Flexibility to Survive and The Time to Help is Now - These two essays written by American high school students for the National Public Radio (NPR) series titled, This I Believe, provide more local perspectives on the issues of poverty and hunger.


  • The Millennium Development Goals Report
     - In 2000 the United Nations adopted eight goals in order to develop a framework for activities in over 190 countries to be achieved over a 15 year period of time. This section of the Report summarizes progress to date on the first goal, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. 
  • The Guardian - This article is from a London newspaper that provides an additional perspective on the progress being made toward the United Nations goal of eradicating hunger and poverty. 
  • Finding the Flexibility to Survive and The Time to Help is Now - These two essays written by American high school students for the National Public Radio (NPR) series titled, This I Believe, provide more local perspectives on the issues of poverty and hunger. 

*In 2009 & 2010, a combination of articles were chosen, in place of a book, for the reading and essay assignment.

First-Year Capstone Projects

For more information, please contact Paige Illum, Director of Student Engagement and Success.

2014 Harry S. Truman Lecture Series

2013 Harry S. Truman Lecture Series


Second Year Checklist

Being a second-year student means a whole new level of accomplishment and exploration. Avila would like to take the guesswork out of succeeding and help you make the most of your college experience. If you have questions about the information on this page, contact:

Student Services, Hodes Center
Paige Illum, Ph.D., Director of Student Engagement & Success
Phone: 816.501.3760

Academic Success

Click here for a printable version of this checklist to help keep yourself on track for a successful second year.

_____1. Create a schedule that allows dedicated time for class attendance, studying (approximately 3 hours for each credit hour; 3 credit hour class = 9 hours), co-curricular activities (athletics, student organizations, etc.), on-campus or off-campus jobs, and other personal commitments. Here is an example of a blank activity schedule that can be completed with your personal schedule. 

_____2. Put all of your activities on a calendar. A visual calendar helps with organizing and prioritizing, but use whatever works best for you! Consider paper calendars, planners, apps, electronic devices, etc. 

_____3. Make sure you know your advisor, and schedule time to discuss future career opportunities and academic course planning. You advisor can be found by logging into MyAU or contacting the Registration and Student Records Office in Blasco Hall.

_____4. Become familiar with MyAU, including how to access final and midterm grades, financial information, and the advising worksheet (which identifies required core and major classes and indicates which requirements have been satisfied). Click here to access MyAU.

_____5. Explore study abroad or travel course opportunities. For information on some of Avila’s travel courses and scholarship opportunities, visit the Center for Global Studies & Social Justice website here.

_____6. When necessary, take advantage the writing center and free tutoring. Visit the Learning Services site here for detailed information and to schedule an appointment.

_____7. If applicable, renew the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after January 1st as possible at

Career Preparation

_____1. Identify your major or explore career opportunities with a Career Services staff member (in the Hodes Center). For a list of undergraduate majors and minors, click here.

_____2. Utilize the many career assessment tools found on Avila’s Career Services webpage here.

_____3. Develop or update your resume. For detailed information, or to schedule an appointment with a staff member, visit Career Services online.

_____4. Consider how a minor or certificate program might enhance your educational experience and career preparation.

_____5. In the spring, start thinking about summer jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities related to your career interests.

Personal Growth

_____1. Understand your financial aid package, including the difference between types of aid (grant, loan, scholarship, work study, etc.).

_____2. Estimate your monthly loan payment upon graduation in order to help make good financial decisions. The net price calculator can be found here.

_____3. Reflect on your values and passions. What is your calling and purpose?

_____4. Create balance in your life to lead a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise are so important.

Community Involvement

_____1. Become an active member of a student organization. View a list of organizations with contact information here. You might consider an organization that enhances your major/career, and one that interests you outside your career path.

_____2. Consider service opportunities within the community. For additional information, you can contact Campus Ministry located on the first floor of Carondelet.

_____3. In the spring, begin thinking about and preparing for where you will live your junior year.


Student success is the driving mission behind the Student Success Center and our services are available to all students. We work to help students make a successful transition into college, and continue to assist them throughout their college careers as they navigate the intellectual and social community of Avila University. We’re all here for you.

The Avila Promise

  • Tuition Protection
  • 4-Year Graduation Guarantee
  • Internship or Research Guarantee
  • Up to $1,000 Travel Award


That’s the Avila Promise.

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Stay Alert to the Covid-19 Situation

Avila University is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and following state and federal guidelines. Check your email and the Healthy Eagles webpage  for information and updates. 

NEW! 25% Tuition Discount for All Displaced Workers

Displaced, laid off, terminated, or furloughed workers (and their spouses/partners) now qualify for a 25% tuition discount on all Adult Professional Undergraduate and Graduate programs from Avila.

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