15:29 PM

New Program Launches to Support Record-Breaking Freshman Class

While many graduates tout their college years as being among their very best, wide-eyed first-year university students can experience demoralizing downers like roommate issues, not fitting in, financial problems and academic stress. These can lead to dissatisfaction and can sabotage success. Wouldn’t it be great if every freshman who wanted one got their own success coach to have their back: someone to help smooth out any wrinkles in the experience?

UST is launching a new program to support its record-setting freshman class and every freshman class after that. Student participation in the UST Freshman Success Coaching Program is voluntary and designed to follow the completion of UST’s required fall class, Freshman Symposium.

A Natural Progression

Dr. Jo Meier Marquis, director for Freshman Symposium, said, “It’s a natural progression. Freshman Symposium is where they learn about UST’s history while also learning about themselves, their values and their university style. Symposium bridges to success coaching for those who choose it the following semester.”

The formality of a structured class goes away as students begin working with their coach, usually one-on-one. All 20 coaches are faculty and staff members who taught portions of the symposium, so the students are already familiar with them.

Check-ins Smooth the Way

During a series of spring semester check-ins, a student’s coach will ask how things are going; whether anything needs to be adjusted for next semester; are goals being set and careers explored; are they active on campus and feeling part of the community; are they making friends; and are they applying for scholarships.

Freshman Success Coaching is the brainchild of Amber Miller, Ph.D and director of UST’S STEM Success Center.

Taking a Holistic Approach to Success

Miller said, “The program takes a holistic approach to success, so it focuses on more than just classes. UST’S Students come from different backgrounds and cultures, and we want to make sure they have the strategies to comfortably handle university life and be successful.”

Designing the program and making it a reality was a collective effort, Miller added. For instance, financial support had to be found to pay a small stipend to each of the coaches who took on the additional responsibilities. VP for Enrollment Management Arthur Ortiz stepped up to spearhead fundraising without hesitation.

Building Connection

“UST is student-centered and values student success, which makes a program like Freshman Success Coaching very important,” Ortiz said. “This will help to build the important connection between our freshman and UST and support retention and graduation rates.”

Miller said, “Sometimes students have questions, and they don’t even know who to ask. Our freshmen can turn to these coaches for any sort of questions. They will feel supported to find their passion and go off and do what they love.”

For additional information about the program, reach out to meierj@stthom.edu.