Meredith College launched the Success Coach program in the spring of 2022, with the first full-time Success Coaches starting work in June. In the program’s first year, Success Coaches provided valuable support to students, helping them more successfully navigate academic and personal challenges.
Success Coaches initially engaged with members of the first-year class at StartStrong, Meredith’s pre-orientation program. All unaffiliated first-year students were assigned to a Success Coach, with other students receiving support through their involvement in the Honors Program and Teaching Scholars. A third Success Coach was hired in August and supported students in the Paschal, AWE-STEM, and Dual Degree Engineering programs.
Over the past year, Success Coaches communicated with students through a variety of mechanisms including emails, handwritten notes accompanied by the students’ favorite candy, texts, and newsletters that addressed a variety of topics that often challenge first-year students such as study skills, choosing a major, and self-care. The Coaches gathered data about each format and adjusted from the fall to spring semester to optimize response rates.
Coaches also met with students in person, through visits to First Year Experience (FYE) classes, and individually. The FYE visits allowed Coaches to meet most of their students in person and teach them new information about time management and Google Workspace skills.
Success Coaches are part of the Student Success Center, which combines success coaching, academic planning, peer tutoring, and testing services.
During the year, Coaches were notified when students were struggling academically. These students were required to register for a course titled IDS-188 Time Management, developed and taught by the Success Coaches; if the students had a time conflict that prevented them from taking this course, they could meet with their Success Coach one-on-one for recovery coaching.
“It’s been a year of learning and coaching ourselves and each other and our students simultaneously,” said Tina Romanelli, director of the Student Success Center. “We’re excited to have completed Gallup Strengths training this summer to ensure we have the tools we need to integrate our program into the larger campus community, and we’re partnering heavily with StrongPoints® to make that happen.”
Results from the first year of the Success Coach program are strong: 93.4% of students retained from the first to second semester, with 81% retained from the first to second year. In addition, 141 students completed a two-year plan and reflection. Students who participated were also surveyed to gather information about the effectiveness of the program and areas for improvement. The students indicated that Success Coaches were a helpful resource, helped solve problems, and cared about students.
The Student Success Center team worked throughout the year to build and strengthen connections with colleagues across campus.
Success Coaches collaborated with the FYE Office and the Student Advisor (SA) program. The Coaches participated in the interview and selection process for SAs, met with the Chief SA to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the 2023-24 academic year, and created and presented a team-building activity at the annual Freshman Faculty Advisor/SA Meet and Greet Event.
In addition, Success Coaches collaborated with the Office of International Programs and the Department of World Languages and Cultures to plan and host multiple events around the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including a kickoff event, match viewing parties, and a bracket competition. Success Coaches utilized these events to create relationships with faculty, staff, and students.
Educating the entire campus on how and when to utilize Success Coaches was another aspect of the program launch. During Faculty Staff Planning Week in August 2022, Associate Director of the Student Success Center Victoria Munn and the Coaches gave a presentation on Success Coaching. They also attended a monthly meeting of the Psychology and Social Work Department.
“It was helpful to have the Success Coaches visit with our department,” said Andrea McPherson, associate professor of psychology. “Our faculty appreciated putting a face with the coaches’ names, hearing about the services that have been provided thus far to our students, and understanding more how success coaches differ from academic advisors.”
In August 2023, Romanelli and others further educated colleagues during Faculty Staff Planning Week about the Student Success Center, focusing on how to refer students, how coaching works, and more. Two new Coaches, Bri’Yahn Ritchie and Melissa Stanley, were also introduced. The presentation emphasized the need for offices and departments to work together to guide and support students.
“We really are a web of support for every student and the Student Success Center has led the way in this initiative,” said McPherson
Information for this story was drawn in part from the Success Coach Program 2022-23 Report compiled and written by the Student Success Center staff.