The Student Success Coach Program began July 10, 2017 with three original Student Success Coaches: Earl Coburn, Emily McClaine and Sunshine Mushrush. In Feb. 2018, Julie Ferringer was added to the staff.
Success Coaches aim to provide an interactive and proactive space for students to connect to campus resources and learn to navigate through their college experience. Success Coach sessions help students create goals, establish values, create action plans for success and grow as a student.
Students are assigned to a Success Coach via alphabetical order of their last name but can set up an appointment with any coach who is available. Freshman are notified of their designated Success Coach the first week of classes and are encouraged to set up a meeting with them as soon as possible.
“It’s great to come by so students can talk about their goals on campus and what they want to achieve,” Mushrush said. “Now, you have that connection moving forward.”
For freshmen, the Success Coaches focus on the transition to SRU. Mushrush says that at the beginning of the year the focus is on adjusting to an independent lifestyle and navigating the university. As the year progresses ,Mushrush said that the focus transitions to preparing for midterms and connecting to organizations on campus.
The Student Success Coach program at SRU is different from other programs on college campuses. The SRU program focuses on more than the academic aspect of students’ lives. In a session with the coaches, students can work on time management, study strategies and any personal aspects a student wants to talk about.
“We aren’t here to tell students which class they should take next semester,” Ferringer said. “We are here to support students and make sure that they’re making informed decisions for themselves.”
Ferringer said that during orientation, freshmen are given an abundance of information at once and they may not know what to do with it. She said that is where the coaches step in and help them sort through the information to find what is important. Coburn said that the most prevalent issue success coaches see with freshmen is the surprise of how different college is from high school.
“Some students are fortunate in high school,” Coburn said. “They don’t have to study, but when they come to college, they realize they need to figure out how to budget time or what the best ways to study are.”
The Success Coaches aim at teaching freshman new study habits, ways of communication and other useful tactics that they can then continue to use in their future.
The coaches see all kinds of students from various majors. Ferringer said that she sometimes will see someone who has a 4.0 and wants to keep progressing, and she will also see students who are struggling with aspects of transition.
“I see these students become empowered,” Ferringer said. “They are able to grow and get to where they want to be.”
To succeed their first year of college, students should be proactive and go to their professors’ office hours to introduce themselves, Mushrush said. Coburn said that thinking ahead a week or two will help students plan and anticipate upcoming assignments. Ferringer added that it’s also important for students to step outside their comfort zone.
Ferringer reminds students that it’s important to be open and willing to try new things.
The Student Success Coaches said not many people know about them, or if they do, they don’t know what to go to the coaches for.
“I think that students sometimes look at our emails and think it is some kind of automation,” Ferringer said. “But we are humans that the students can come and interact with.”
Mushrush added that students shouldn’t be afraid to come to the Success Coaches, and that no matter what the question is, the coaches are here to help.
“There are so many students, especially first-generation students who come to SRU and don’t know what to do,” Mushrush said. “They don’t know how to navigate; they have all these questions and nobody to ask. That’s what we’re here for.”
Across the board, the Success Coaches said that their favorite part about their job is interacting with the students and watching them grow.
Ferringer mentioned how awesome it is to be able to interact with so many different people.
“I’m a people person,” Ferringer said. “It’s really awesome to be able to hit everybody on campus.”
“My favorite part is when a student comes back and let’s me know that they just did this big thing on their own,” Mushrush said smiling. “It’s exciting to see them comfortable here and feeling empowered to make choices on their own.”
Coburn added that he loves when students find something that clicks. whether it’s a resource he suggested or something that the student is working on with him.
“The student comes back and says, ‘I’ve beat this…I’m up for the next challenge,” Coburn said. “I love seeing those little moments.”
Recently the Student Success Coaches have been moved to the basement of Patterson in offices 013-016. The coaches encourage students to come and visit them any time.
“We try to make the transition easy and streamlined as possible for the students,” said Mushrush.