Industry Insights

Valuable insights from UPCEA's trusted corporate partners.

New guide offers colleges a playbook for building an in-house student coaching program

Fuel student support services on your campus — and sustain the impact for years to come

The challenges facing higher ed today are both daunting and well-known: declining enrollment, student retention and staff burnout. The solutions, however, are harder to come by. With resources already stretched thin, how can colleges and universities build capacity for the long-term and equip their staff with sustainable methods for keeping students on track toward their goals?

That’s the impetus behind a just-released report from InsideTrack — Empowering Teams, Transforming Outcomes — a how-to roadmap for building and sustaining a holistic, in-house student support program. This actionable guide contains firsthand thoughts and lessons learned from InsideTrack’s experience helping more than 130 partners embed coaching into their student support and guidance, as well as insights from higher ed leaders across the country — demonstrating how to build capacity and transform student support services. 

Empowering Teams, Transforming Outcomes serves as a comprehensive plan of action for colleges and universities to equip their staff with sustainable methods for keeping students on track toward graduation. Topics covered include the four essential elements of nurturing and sustaining student support that fuels real impact, plus firsthand institutional examples of how in-depth coaching development and training can build in-house coaching programs that work — and last. And three ready-to-download tools that can help institutions of all types take the initial steps to get started are also included.


Four essential elements show you how to take your student support services from transactional to transformational

Empowering your student-facing teams to lean into research-proven coaching methodology to be more transformational starts with understanding the four essential elements of building sustainable student support.  

  1. Assess institutional needs and readiness

Many of your students — especially online and adult learners — are juggling multiple, competing responsibilities, including work, family and other commitments, in addition to academics. That’s why, when you’re embarking on a journey to revamp your student support, it’s crucial to conduct an in-depth assessment of the needs of your students. Along with understanding student needs, it’s equally important to gauge institutional readiness for addressing those needs. Ensure your institution sets high-level objectives, such as improving overall retention or completion rates, as well as more nuanced goals designed to address the discrete needs of your student populations — and communicate those objectives and goals clearly. 

  1. Choose an evidence-based methodology

Once they’ve assessed their students’ needs and readiness, it’s crucial that institutions align around an evidence-based framework that will not only meet the learning needs of their students, but also the development needs of their staff. Training should be immersive and continuous, with a framework informed by a strong coaching methodology that is student-centered, holistic and scalable. Staff buy-in and change management — including opportunities for career advancement — is a must for the program to succeed.

  1. Nurture internal culture to sustain impact

Too often, the effects of a student success initiative — even one showing great promise or strong initial results — eventually fizzle out once grant funding dries up or an external partnership winds down. Creating lasting capacity for transforming student outcomes requires that the innovations institutions develop with partner organizations are sustainable and capable of carrying on, even growing, long after the partnership ends. It’s critical to invest in a training and development program that sets staff up with the capacity to keep the program running sustainably — from a “train the trainer” model to continuous opportunity for staff observation and growth-centered feedback. 

  1. Secure sustainable funding sources

At a time when many colleges are strapped for resources, covering the upfront costs necessary for creating a holistic and self-sustaining system of student support may be easier said than done. Internal operating budgets, federal and state grants, and philanthropic investments from charitable organizations and endowments can all play a role in providing the funding necessary to create sustainable change.


Along with the four essential elements of building sustainable student support and three real-world examples of these programs, Empowering Teams, Transforming Outcomes also includes a trio of ready-to-use tools that can help your institution take the necessary steps to start revamping your student support processes today.

  1. Planning guide for institutional transformation

To aid in planning, the report includes a detailed, step-by-step set of questions and things to consider when you’re partnering to launch a training and development program at your institution.

  1. Change management best practices checklist

New training and development initiatives require a significant amount of change for your teams — in mindset, behavior, knowledge and skill development. Incorporating a change management model from the very beginning ensures that everyone knows what’s expected of them and how the change will benefit each team member. A comprehensive checklist breaks this process down into three phases.

  1. Funding options for student support initiatives

During a time of declines in state and federal funding, colleges are struggling with budgetary issues that require cuts to programs, faculty and student services. So while the need for sustainable student support programs is greater than ever, so too are the challenges to fund them. This tool gets you prepared to ask for funding, then shares ideas for funding sources — with specific questions to consider for each funding source. 


Building capacity that lasts

The challenges faced by students and their schools will continue to make degree completion a daunting journey. And institutional bandwidth remains a concern for colleges and universities across the country. By equipping student support staff with evidence-based coaching frameworks, institutions can grow their capacity for student support in a manner that can be sustained — extending the impact of this holistic approach to more students who need it. The goal of this guide is to provide colleges and universities with a field-tested roadmap for making it happen. 

You can access the free guide here: Empowering Teams, Transforming Outcomes

Once you’ve had a chance to download and read the guide, be sure to mark your calendar and join us to hear directly from leaders from the three colleges and universities featured in the report. Registration is now open for a live webinar with Q&A on Tuesday, June 11 at 2 pm ET. 


About InsideTrack 

InsideTrack is a mission-driven nonprofit that fuels positive change by advancing all learners to achieve their educational and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. We help individuals get the education they need to enhance well-being, create opportunity and secure meaningful employment — ultimately facilitating economic and social mobility. Since 2001, we have directly served more than 3.2 million students and 350 institutions to improve enrollment, retention, completion and career advancement.

To expand our impact in the postsecondary ecosystem, we also directly serve institutions and organizations by training and certifying their staff, administration and leaders in our evidence-based and research-confirmed coaching methodology. This equips teams with proven tools to sustain the impact of coaching in-house and help their learners thrive for years to come. InsideTrack coaching is a catalyst for transformational impact, both empowering students and the organizations who serve them. To learn more, visit and follow us on LinkedIn @InsideTrack.

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