Bolster your team of student success coaches with these 3 best practices.
Student success coaching is one of the most important pieces of the student retention puzzle. Adult students and working professionals often feel overwhelmed while trying to balance school, work, and life – particularly after some years away from an academic setting. With overall retention rates reaching historic lows in 2021, building and strengthening a student success program is more important than ever.
While it takes a community to help students throughout their journey, success coaches help students navigate challenges and support their persistence through the student lifecycle. Pre-enrollment coaches, admissions advisors, and academic advisors all play a valuable role. A dedicated team of student success coaches compliments your other professionals and supports students in very specific ways.
Whether you are implementing a student success team for the first time or looking to strengthen your existing processes, here are some key considerations that will improve your retention rates and support students through their academic journey.
Powerful Strategies to Strengthen Your Student Success Program
- Designate ownership of the student experience
- Define the scope of responsibilities for success coaches
- Identify sources of support for your student success coaching team.
1. Designate Ownership for the Student Experience
What happens once a student is enrolled? Often, the answer is: “it depends.”
It depends on degree level, college, program, semester, or even cohort. In short, it depends on who claims ownership. That means students probably aren’t getting consistent, seamless support. And where there are seams, someone is bound to fall through the cracks.
When you designate ownership, you pool resources and assign tasks strategically across students with a strategy and processes.
Dedicated student success coaches can support a portfolio of students across multiple schools or programs. They don’t have to be experts in the academic subject. They just need an understanding of common pitfalls and detours that students might face. And, they need to be able to connect the resources that will help students overcome whatever challenges they may face.
2. Define the Scope of Responsibilities for Success Coaches
It’s important to identify what student success coaches will do and how their scope of responsibilities can impact student success. A clear job description that clearly defines the role and responsibilities helps everyone understand ownership of each piece of the student journey.
Student success coaches with a clearly defined scope aren’t helping students choose their classes or creating an academic plan for a specific graduation date. That’s the role of academic advisors, and it’s something advisors are well-equipped to do. They handle the big picture, while success coaches focus on the day-to-day.
Let’s think of a student’s academic journey as a building project. Academic advisors are architects. Student success coaches are site supervisors. Each plays a specific role. The architect creates a blueprint that everyone must follow, or the building will never stand. But, challenges pop up during the building process. Maybe someone gets sick, and the schedule must be adjusted. Materials are delayed, so the plan changes. The student success coach identifies challenges and works to find solutions.
Student success coaches work intentionally with students to adapt to challenges as they arise. They help students handle delays caused by illness, bereavement, employment changes, or other life events. When a student hasn’t logged in for a while, they can check in. The goal is to help students stay on track, even when life gets in the way.
3. Identify Sources of Support for your Student Success Coaching Team
To help students succeed, success coaches should have the tools to be proactive. They will need two things to do this: training and data.
Training equips coaches to intervene when students need help. It empowers coaches to provide targeted support. They learn when to encourage, step back, and let the student take charge. Ideally, they will have a list of resources and will know when and where to deploy those resources on behalf of the student. A major part of their role is connecting those students to student support services and administrative departments, like the bursar’s office.
Coaches use data-informed practices to proactively guide students. They keep track of how a student is engaging and progressing through courses. Along the way, coaches collect anecdotal evidence and behavioral data showing what works and doesn’t. When they see a dip in participation, they can intervene. This approach strengthens the model that flags a student as high risk and improves the strategies for supporting these students.
Strengthening your student success program can be daunting, but it’s worth the effort. Designate ownership for the student experience, define the scope of responsibilities for success coaches, and identify sources of support for your coaching team. You’ll help more students persist to graduation and smooth the path for many others.
Looking for a team of expert success coaches to help your students get to graduation day? At EDDY our mission is to change lives through education. Our dedicated student success coaches are experts in engaging students, identifying challenges, and providing the necessary support along the way. Contact us to learn how EDDY can help support your students.