The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. Due to the transition to online learning, many students feel overwhelmed and have a hard time managing their schedules. The Center for Student Engagement and Success is one of the many services that the Mount offers to help take some weight off of students’ shoulders. Originally established in 2016, the center has only been growing since.
“We focus a lot of our efforts towards the transition for first-year students,” Andrew Atkins, a graduate assistant with the Office of Equity and Success, stated. They focus their efforts on new students to ensure that “their transition from high school to college is seamless.” He describes how additional efforts are used for older students including Pathways for Success, where students “explore their passions, find their purpose and build their customized plans.”
College is a bit of a culture shock to many students, which CSES helps students grapple with. Peer Leaders are Mount students who provide immediate support to first-year students and are the ones who help them transition academically, socially and culturally to college life. “Any student can apply to be a Peer Leader,” Atkins added.
Alice Creasman, a Student Success Coach for CSES explained that, “Our main goal is to offer support and advice to help students navigate college inside and outside the classroom.” Creasman started at the Mount in August 2018 as the first Success Coach. “We assist students with questions about everything from choosing a major to considering an internship to study abroad to setting personal goals.”
“We serve as a liaison between the students and the university resources,” Jose Del Valle, another Success Coach, added. Coaches work one-on-one with students to better understand their concerns and how to assist them.
“I have helped students who were in danger of losing financial aid to complete the courses they needed in order to keep their scholarships and stay on track to graduate within four years,” Creasman recounted.
CSES has many different activities to bolster success among students, including Tools for Academic Success workshops about learning strategies and organizational skills for students and faculty. These workshops are held every Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Knott Academic Center Room 321 and on Zoom.
While there is no specific training in order to be a Success Coach, Del Valle’s Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Guidance Counseling and work experience makes him a qualified coach. “I’ve worked in higher education for over a decade in various roles, from college counselor to academic advisor,” he said. Del Valle also shared that he has worked with students from many different backgrounds and situations.
Both Creasman and Del Valle described the benefits that Success Coaches bring to students. “CSES Coaches offer guidance and support,” Creasman stated. “Students sometimes need a helping hand and we can help out when students have problems or questions.” The coaches work closely with students to develop plans since every student is different and deserves a course of action specific to them, including course scheduling. If the Success Coaches are not able to provide assistance, they contact other departments to help.