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Student Coaching and Best Practices

Student coaching is a critical role to supporting a student’s wellbeing and growth during the time they are enrolled in an academic program. Today’s students are no longer fresh out of high school kids. They hold a variety of titles like first generation college student, active military service member, veterans, working professionals, and everything in between and they require high level 1-to-1 support because balancing all of their different roles and responsibilities cannot be done alone. Student Coaches are not only a repository of knowledge to help the student successfully navigate a potentially complicated university system and available resources, but they are a sounding board for students’ worries and anxieties and a guide towards building better habits that promote growth and achievement.

Student Coaches should work from an angle that strives to work for what is best for the student overall. While the university wants high enrollment numbers and high retention rates, students who are suffering from external issues with no support or falling behind in class because of slow feedback, begin to feel as if there is nowhere to turn and coaches are there to throw a lifeline. Here are some best practices for student coaches to consider when working with today’s diverse student populations:


Operate from a place of empathy

If a student faces an emotionally challenging situation and brings it to the attention of the student coach, this is an opportunity for the coach to show care and empathy for the student. Upfront the coach should believe the student’s situation and offer resources that the student can take advantage of.


Check in regularly outside of academic issues

Student coaches have the freedom to make contact with their students as often as they see fit and while coaches should make an effort to help their students maintain success to avoid the pitfalls of a low GPA or missed academic goals, coaches should feel empowered to reach out to their students to sing their praises and check in on the accomplishment of other goals. Students who feel like they are being recognized for their progress in a positive way can feel like they belong at their university and are empowered to continue their journey resulting in what the university wants; enrollment and retention.


Be proactive instead of reactive

Coaches should seek to be proactive in keeping in contact with their students through all available channels. When university policies change or students could be impacted by a local or global event, it can be an opportunity for the coach to check in on their students to offer an ear or support for them by keeping lines of communication clear and open. Reaching out before an issue grows can encourage a student to speak up and can be the difference between success and failure. Coaches should also strive to offer tips for success and how to build better habits.


Alexis L. Snyder is Student Success Coach at the College of Professional Studies at The George Washington University. Alexis currently serves as Vice-Chair At-Large for UPCEA’s Marketing, Enrollment and Student Success (MESS) Network.

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