We have been fortunate at my institution during the past several years, to be able to hire excellent Success Coaches. All of them are part-time employees and they like it that way. Almost all are retired from their careers and just want to work a few hours a week doing something that is rewarding and allows them to use their skills and experience to help young students. We have individuals whose careers included serving as high school counselors, teachers, human resource manager, college learning center director, adjunct professors, and men and women who have worked in business or government.
Most of our coaches have inquired about the positions because someone told them about our program. I have already had two guidance counselors from neighboring school districts who want to be part of this endeavor when they retire in the next year or so. For teachers and guidance counselors, it is a natural fit. One of the first things we discuss in an interview with a potential coach is his or her love of young people and the patience sometimes required to see results. After all, our students are EMERGING adults.
We know that being a good and intuitive listener is vital, as well as having or being able to learn strategies for managing the many different boulders that students face. We talked about “The Many Faces of a Success Coach” in a previous post and discussed what skills and abilities are needed to be effective. I orient new coaches to our coaching methodology and introduce them to the resources available on campus for students who need help in any aspect of college life. Speakers and workshops on various topics are provided for our coaches during the year and we share with each other tips that have worked for us in our coaching.
We have a really great coach this semester who lives about 60 miles from the University. She comes in once a week to meet with her students for a half hour each, then uses Skype from her home to meet with them the second half hour. One of the Success Coach offices has a camera on the computer for this purpose. Students go to the office on a specific day and time to meet with the coach. It is working very well and enables us to hire good coaches from some distance away.
All of us use email, mobile phone and texting to keep in touch with students during the week. Our coaches who also happen to be grandparents love the response they get when their grandchildren learn that “Grandma can text?!” Yes, for some it has been an adventure into the world of cyberspace. We are awaiting the next new technological device that will make communicating even easier.
Susan Marion is the Coordinator for Success Coaches at Tiffin University, in Tiffin, Ohio. She was instrumental in starting success coaching at the institution in 2007. The program now has fifteen part-time success coaches and supports almost one hundred students who are at risk academically.