How to build long-term relationships that foster student success
Q&A with Student Support Coach Kristina Campbell
Coaching students isn’t just a job, it’s a two-way bond that helps students focus on their academic goals. It also gives the student support coaches a unique understanding of what students need to complete their online degrees or programs. And it affords institutions the ability to retain students who are tracking toward their goals. Kristina Campbell tells her story as a student support coach below.
What do you enjoy most about coaching students?
For me, it’s being with a student from start to finish. Nothing is more satisfying than being a part of the student’s process and hearing the excitement and joy they have upon their completion of the program. To be part of their celebration of a momentous achievement.
What's it like to have a long-term relationship with a student and watch them succeed?
Long term relationships are the most rewarding experience of being a coach. They give me a deeper and richer connection with the student. I even love going through those rough stages and gently pushing others when they feel that they can’t continue moving forward.
Recently, I spoke with a student who is in their last semester. They told me that had I not given a gentle nudge the first week of class, they would’ve stopped and never reached their last semester. Students have told me they truly value the role of a coach; they’ve gone through programs before where coaching wasn’t provided and have felt the importance of having one in the programs we provide.
What are 3 characteristics or skills that you need to be an effective coach of adult learners?
- Good communication that goes beyond just talking. A coach needs to listen actively, provide helpful responses, and cultivate an atmosphere where students feel comfortable to speak.
- Empathy to understand that going through an educational program is not an easy feat. Students want to work with someone they believe will try to understand and show they care.
- Being supportive because everyone wants to be affirmed in their decisions. Coaches are part of the support system for a student.
How do you help students overcome their concerns as they’re working toward their degrees?
Time management is one of the main concerns I hear from students when starting a program or when the tempo of the program changes due to course load. Students have several constants in their lives that take priority before everything else (i.e., family and work). School is a wonderful variable that they are throwing in the mix.
I try to help students figure out how to balance school, work, home, and life. We work on finding ways to make time for learning, figuring out what needs to be adjusted or omitted in their schedule, and on making time for self-care.
How do you help learners stay engaged with their courses and programs?
I try to keep learners engaged by calling them regularly, sending emails, and texting. I also send reminders, resources, and any aids or tools I can find regarding their courses.
How do you coordinate with the university to support your students?
My team has a wonderful relationship with our school partner. We have been able to identify issues and bring them to the institution’s attention as needed.
And, on multiple occasions, I’ve reached out to instructors to advocate or help a student succeed. I had one student who was diagnosed with a severe health condition. They were in the hospital and needed help to get extensions on their work. I was able to connect with the instructor to get resources to help the student complete the course.