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Month: September 2012

Success Coach Performance Management

Success Coach Performance Management

Persistence and student academic success has become one of the most important measures of institutional effectiveness in higher education.  Consequently, colleges and universities across the country are making investments in technology, support staff and learning resources to help improve student success.  Due to these additional investments and the high stakes nature of quality academic outcomes, institutions are also looking for ways in which they can ensure the effective performance of their student support professionals.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways in which administrators can manage the performance of Success Coaches and other student service professionals to make sure that student outreach is occurring and those employees are proactively attempting to ensure student success.  This post will describe the use of call lists, key performance indicators and accountability meetings as tools to manage Success Coach performance.

Identifying and prioritizing students who need an intervention is an effective way to help students succeed.  Through the use of a retention tool, managers can create focused call lists based on a variety of student behaviors.  For example, a call list may be generated based on student attendance, the current grade in a course or even those students who are not yet registered for the next semester.  By generating a focused call list the manager can identify the specific population of students the Success Coaches can use to prioritize their time and proactively reach out to individual students who are in most need of interventions.

Tracking student data and establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Success Coaches is also a useful way to ensure student success.  KPIs are commonly used in recruitment activities as a way to track the success of a particular activity, such as converting applicants into enrollment students, but are used less often in retention activities.

KPIs for Success Coaches and other retention specialists relate to contact with students, student satisfaction, and persistence. For example, contact rate (the percentage of students with whom the Coach has had contact over a given time), the scheduled rate (percentage of students scheduled for a subsequent enrollment term), retention rate (year-to-year retention), and graduation rate (percentage of students who have graduated) are good measures of coach effectiveness. Other institutions measure student satisfaction to determine the level of student service being provided by Success Coaches.

Developing a culture of accountability is important in order to measure effectiveness and to meet organizational goals. Accountability meetings allow for managers to hold Success Coaches responsible for maintaining communication with their roster of students and for keeping their students on track.  Managers should first educate employees on the expectations for student outreach and then hold weekly accountability meetings with each Success Coach to ensure expectations for initial communication, follow up, and problem resolution are being met.  With the use of focus lists, key performance indicators and reports essential information can be collected to determine how well each Success Coach is maintaining relationships with students thereby allowing employees to take ownership and responsibility for their results.

The Aviso Coaching software platform can help track the proactive outreach and potential interventions necessary to help students succeed.  To learn more about the other features and tools available in the Aviso Coaching software and how you can help improve retention at your institution, give us a call or email us to learn more.

The Importance of Developing Rapport with Students

The Importance of Developing Rapport with Students

In today’s educational climate any tactic that can be used to help improve student success or increase retention should be considered by every institution.  It is even better when the approaches are not difficult to implement, do not take much time or do not cost a lot of money.  While many colleges are understaffed and underfunded and may not have the resources available to implement all of the retention best practices, one best practice that student services professionals should always consider is the importance of developing rapport with their students.

Developing rapport is an essential skill that a student service professional should embody.   Taking time to get to know your students and develop rapport are imperative steps during the first few interactions with the student in order to establish the relationship and trust needed for productive and effective interactions in the future. Students are more likely to open up and provide helpful information about themselves and their situation when feeling comfortable with you.

Establishing rapport begins with creating interest by developing a conversation and finding common ground with the student.  It may be that you share a favorite sports team, that you both like cats, or that you come from the same home town.  Regardless of the similarities and commonality, the first step is to find something that you have in common.

However, it is important to understand that the conversation is about the student, not about you. A student services professional cannot be selfish, in fact he must be able to listen intently and center the conversation on the student.  While it is sometimes necessary to share some information about yourself to identify that common ground, you should always keep the student and her needs as the focus of the discussion.

It is also important for your students to know that you sincerely care about their well-being and that you want them to succeed.  It’s important for you to be able to get to know them well enough so that you can come to understand their hopes and dreams, and for you to be able to convey to your students that you are there to help them achieve those goals.

Here are fifteen tips to help ensure successful rapport building with your students:

  1. Focus on the student
  2. Be positive throughout your conversation
  3. Demonstrate empathy and respect
  4. Actively listen and create a safe conversation for the student
  5. Be genuine and natural in your conversation
  6. Make sure to avoid judgment
  7. Make a connection to the student
  8. Be consistent and follow through
  9. Relate to the student
  10. Highlight strengths and interests
  11. Ask the student’s perspective
  12. Encourage open and honest discussions
  13. Empower the student and involve them on decisions
  14. Make sure to use appropriate questioning techniques in order to elicit the appropriate responses
  15. In person, use appropriate eye contact, body language and gestures

This simple task of building rapport can have a major impact in ensuring successful relationships with students. Advisors or Success Coaches can build rapport with the student, gain their trust and develop a true relationship which allows for enhanced student engagement.  The better the relationship with the student, the more likely the students will share the necessary information to help build strategies to overcome the obstacles that get in their way.  Allowing this advisor to student relationship to develop can help increase the chances for the student to be successful. Spending time building rapport, earning trust and developing relationships with students will help you and your institution to impact student retention.

The Aviso Coaching software platform can help track the important interactions between advisors and students and much, much more.  To learn more about the other features and tools available in the Aviso Coaching software and how you can help improve retention at your institution, give us a call or email us to learn more.

The Top Three Challenges Students Face

The Top Three Challenges Students Face

Many students begin their college quest with hopes and dreams of earning a degree and improving their situation at home, at work or life in general.  Often, after students begin their college experience they are faced with obstacles and challenges that can seem insurmountable.  For some students it just slows them down, for others it can stop them from achieving those hopes and dreams.  Regardless of the type of institution: public or private, big or small, two-year or four-year, we often hear about and witness the same issues from our current and prospective clients regarding challenges students are having to overcome.  This post identifies the top three challenges that students face.

Financial

Most students can’t write a personal check or dip into a savings account to pay for tuition, books and other educational expenses.  Many others also fret about how they are going to support themselves and their families while enrolled in higher education.  Since the majority of college students utilize student loans to pay educational expenses and help make ends meet, students are also faced with the reality of student loans and debt after graduation.

Consequently, almost all students struggle with determining how they are going to pay for college. It is a near universal phenomenon.  Students stress over how to pay for college now and how they are going to be able to afford paying off their loans in the future.  It is truly a big investment and a troubling dilemma that most students ask themselves: How do I pay for school and maintain my other obligations today so that my family and I can have a better life tomorrow?

Managing Commitments

Balancing work, school and family is another major challenge students face.  Many adult, community college, and online students must hold down jobs, attend school and take care of a family.   Even traditional college students have to manage part time jobs, internships and extracurricular activities like intercollegiate athletics that they have to juggle.  These responsibilities can be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone who has not attended college before or been out of school for many years.

All of these commitments can often lead to an overwhelmed student.  Many individuals find it hard to prioritize tasks, manage time effectively and ask for help when it is needed.  Therefore, it is safe to say that managing commitments is the second most frequent challenge faced by college students today.

Academic Preparedness

Many college students face the realization that their previous academic preparation was not at the level it needed to be in order to perform academically at the college level.  Perhaps the underprepared student may not have taken the appropriate college preparatory courses or have not taken academic courses for such a long period of time that the required information has not been retained.

This means that the underprepared student will likely require remedial courses in order to regain or attain a base level of academic competency.  In fact, this phenomenon of students requiring remedial education is a growing challenge at institutions across the country. Even the most selective colleges and universities have students that earned strong grades in high school but struggle to write a good paragraph, or solve an algebra equation.

 

These challenges can be extremely stressful for students and can often be the reasons that lead to student attrition.  As a student service professional, identifying and understanding these challenges students face is a key component to the job.  Helping students work their way through these obstacles can be both rewarding and difficult.

To help, we have created the Aviso Coaching software platform to track student challenges, document communications, identify interventions, collaborate with other institutional resources and easily make referrals. To learn more about the other features and tools available in the Aviso Coaching software and how you can help your students achieve their goals, give us a call or email us to learn more.

Case Management and Student Coaching

Case Management and Student Coaching

As the scrutiny from accrediting bodies, government agencies and taxpayers becomes more intense the pressure to increase persistence, student success and produce more career-ready graduates is being felt by institutions across the country. To meet these demands many institutions are turning to single point of contact model and some form of student coaching. This post describes the single point of contact model and contrasts case management and student coaching.

Single Point of Contact

After a student enrolls there are many issues, barriers and obstacles that could lead to student attrition. Student satisfaction with academic and career advising, affordability, child care issues, military deployment, faculty engagement, technology challenges and academic preparedness are just a few. A coach, advisor, or mentor can help students navigate the complex bureaucracy of higher education, and help learners sort out the difference between a bursar and the registrar.

In this single point of contact model the Case Manager or Coach serves as the relationship manager between the student and the institution. The primary role is to retain students and to help them matriculate toward graduation and a successful career. They do this by serving as a generalist that can answer the majority of the students’ questions and referring students to the correct resources for the questions they can’t answer.

Student Coaches and Case Managers are typically assigned a roster of students for whom they are responsible. They communicate with students in person, through telephone and digital communications and provide direction about registration, advising, financial aid, career services, and other important information.

Although the Coach or Case Manager is able to handle the majority of student challenges they do not work alone and should work closely with other retention staff. For example, a Student Accounts Representative could help with tuition payment plans, FAFSA renewals, and other financial affairs while a Tutor could help students master research writing. Other staff on the retention team could include individuals responsible for disability services, career services, and technical support.

The personality profile of a Student Coach or Case Manager is that of a “helper person.” Good Coaches love to help others. They have strong people skills; they are empathetic, strong communicators, who are good at developing personal relationships over the telephone. Some of the best Coaches hold degrees or have experience in the fields of counseling, social work, and education.

Case Management

In general, a case management coaching model is reactive and transactional. Case managers have large rosters of undergraduate students, typically several hundred to over a thousand students, and are usually found on community college and State-supported four-year campuses.

Because they have so many students to whom they serve they function much like air traffic controllers; speaking briefly with students, identifying challenges and guiding or routing students to the right department or resource all day long. Consequently, it is difficult for case managers to create long-lasting and close relationships with students.

Their workload is reactive to student challenges and transactional in nature as the case manager refers students to the appropriate institutional resource. This model leaves little time for student development but is better than giving the students the ‘run-around’, thus leading to higher levels of student satisfaction.

Student Coaching

Coaches on the other hand, are proactive and transformational. Coaches have smaller student rosters of one to two hundred (100-200) students and are able to develop more personal and meaningful relationships. They are usually found at private four-year institutions, in departments that serve high-risk students and in some online graduate programs.

Coaches reach out to students proactively and conduct weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings with students. They help students set goals, manage their time, and negotiate life challenges related to work and family, not just school. This frequent contact and the disclosure of life’s hopes, dreams, and problems lead to close personal relationships.

Often, this proactive outreach and more frequent contact leads to accelerated student development, higher levels of student satisfaction and greater levels of student success.

Usually, the choice between a Case Management or Student Coaching model is dictated by human resources, degree level and institutional philosophy. Most institutions can barely afford Case Managers while many would like to be able to provide a personal Coach for every student.

Give us a call at (567) 297-0070 or request information if you would like to learn more a single point of contact model, Case Management or Student Coaching. We can help you implement a new model for student success at your school.