RANGER RECOVERY

 

 

 

Building Blocks for Student Success

 

 

 

There’s more to student success than counting graduates. UW-Parkside focuses on a student’s entire college life – like family and work commitments, studying habits, and time management skills – to help them be truly successful in their higher education careers.

If you asked UW-Parkside senior Ramon Romero how prepared he was arriving at campus as a wide-eyed freshman four years ago, he would tell you, “Not at all.”

Kim White, Manager of Academic Success, emphasizes that Romero was not alone in his challenge of adjusting to life as a college student.

“It’s not always the actual course content that the students struggle with,” said White. “A lot of it is how they apply that content to their courses, and their studying – how to take notes, how to read a chapter, write papers, and compile all this information together in order to pass your tests.”

Students can also struggle with how much time coursework takes up in their daily lives, especially if they are balancing work and family commitments. “Maybe they’re taking care of a family member, or maybe they have to work more hours because they’re contributing to the household or taking care of siblings,” said White.

These scenarios are not uncommon for UW-Parkside students, even students who perform well academically. It is important to approach student success with a positive mindset. This is true of how PARC approaches all academic support. Students often come with a fixed mindset that they’re not good at math, or not good at writing, or test taking. They work with the students to change that way of thinking – a positive attitude, or mindset can go a long way when you think about your academic performance.

Ramon Romero

Student success coaches

More than 40 peers carry out PARC programming. Those peers include success coaches, tutors, and supplemental instruction leaders.  Specifically, the peer success coaches are students who are able to share their own experiences, offer insight, and help teach other students the mechanics of taking a class, taking notes, studying, taking tests, and more. In addition to scheduled hours for assistance in key subject areas, students can also take advantage of PARC’s drop-in hours to talk to a peer coach at a moment’s notice.

White said PARC also serves as a great connection point for students. During freshmen orientation, she said PARC can help even if new students aren’t initially struggling with fall classes. They can still learn critical time management and studying skills that will help them beyond their first year and, if they’re successful, they may even end up working as a peer success coaches themselves.

Romero, a first-generation college student who came from a very small school, was one of those students who didn’t really think about the academic part of his college career. As a track and cross country athlete, he knew he just wanted to run. After struggling through his first semester, he reached out to White and the peer success coaches. “Kim has been amazing – she opened my eyes,” said Ramon. “And the PARC has people to help you with everything, like how to write papers or simply coming up with ideas on what to write about.”

“In addition to his athletic family, Ramon has had an extended support group through us,” said White. “Just to see his growth and watch him graduate this year has been phenomenal.”

Ramping up success – The Callahan Scholars

One can sense some momentum building for student success these days on the Parkside campus. Counting this winter’s class, the university has graduated the largest groups ever in the most recent three commencements. And just this fall UW-Parkside received a gift of $3 million from the Callahan family of Kenosha to fund a new scholarship program aimed at building on that success coaching model.

The new program, the Callahan Scholars, benefits students who have financial need with an emphasis on supporting Kenosha County students and students of color. In addition to funding scholarships, the gift provides success coaching and learning and engagement opportunities that support student success.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony this past October, Andy Callahan talked about their commitment to student success. “Our family’s partnership with UW-Parkside has always focused on helping students access opportunities that help them thrive. We see this gift as a continuation of that partnership, and as part of our commitment to support the strengths and potential of young people in our community. The passion of leaders at UW-Parkside, including Chancellor Ford, for student success is inspirational.”

Supporting the Callahan Scholars and helping them navigate their way through a successful academic career will be Jenna Balek, a success coach with a long history at UW-Parkside. Balek will work with 40 scholars – 10 each of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors – helping them succeed not only in college, but beyond. “I’ve met with a senior applying for their doctorate program, so you can see it’s important just having support on campus to share in and help continue that success,” said Balek.

Balek can’t emphasize enough the effect the Callahan scholarships will have in helping students succeed. “It’s just a huge impact,” said Balek. “I’m grateful to have that opportunity to see the gratitude from the students and see firsthand how that’s been a life changing opportunity.”

She notes, for example, that the scholarship funding affords some scholars relief from a financial situation that forced them to work 35 hours or more per week, allowing them to be more engaged on campus and more effectively pursue their life and career goals.

“To have that work-life balance is critical, or for some it allows them to simply come back to school at all,” said Balek. “That’s what’s so important – to have that constant support to meet them where they are.”

Keeping the momentum going

For White, Balek and other success coaches at UW-Parkside, there’s no sign of slowing down. Recently the university was awarded a five-year, $1.8 million grant through the federal Title III Program to enhance the university’s student success coaching effort. The funds will expand and supplement student support by providing success coaches for first-time, first year and transfer students across the university.

With the recent good news about funding and expanded success coaching efforts, one has to ask: what makes UW-Parkside’s work so successful? To Kim White, it’s about engaging the student and making the personal connection. Between coaches, advisors, faculty members, and other relationships, students develop a network of support across the university.

“The more connections you make with a student the more they’re going to feel part of a campus, the more they’re going to get involved, and they’re going to establish relationships,” said White. “They’re going to be happier, they’re going to have a much more extended support system.”

For Balek, it’s about looking at the whole picture. “I think it’s that holistic approach we mentioned, it’s the whole person and the whole student, and having a point person for regular check ins,” said Balek. “Yes, you meet with your academic advisor about the academic piece, but we’re helping hold all those other pieces together, financial, studying, providing other resources, etc.”

That’s how it worked for Romero. Thanks to his hard work after that rocky start, and with Kim White’s help, he’s graduating this spring and pursuing a master’s degree in Sport Management. “When a student sees that somebody cares, it just means the world to them,” said White.

What is a success coach QandA with Jenna Balek Callahan Scholars success coach

What is success coaching?

Success coaching is a holistic approach to supporting students that involves meeting students where they are and helping them achieve both their academic and personal goals. As the Callahan Scholars Success Coach, I support students with work-life balance planning, navigating university and community resources, goal setting, time management, learning strategies, study skills and programming that builds a sense of community and belonging.

What is the Callahan Scholars program?

As a Callahan Scholar, students commit to connecting with me every other week for success coaching, maintaining a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA, and participating in community service and campus engagement opportunities. In addition to the $5,000 annual scholarship scholars receive, they are also eligible for hands-on learning funds to help support opportunities such as internships, research and study abroad. At the start of the year, 40 scholars were selected (10 students in each class) to participate. Each year, 10 new freshman scholars will join the program.

In just the first few months, the Callahan Scholars have been actively engaged on campus and participating in community service across the Kenosha/Racine area as well as on campus. In early October a small group of scholars attended the Harvest Clean-up in Kenosha’s Uptown neighborhood, in December a group will help clean and organize at the Shalom Center, some have served individually at local churches or community centers, while others have helped on campus at sporting events and other campus activities. Many scholars have been using the Parkside Academic Resource Center for tutoring and peer success coaching, and have shared with me in their check-ins that these supports have been helpful.

What made you want to be a success coach?

While I enjoyed my role as a transfer counselor, I found that I wanted to help support students beyond the admissions process. I saw the need for students to have a person invested in their success and well-being throughout their educational journey, who could help them develop the skills and tools necessary to accomplish both their academic and life goals. I feel the Callahan Scholars success coach position fills a significant need on campus, and it matches well with my background in counseling and desire to provide consistent support to students as they persist to graduation.

How does your previous work experience, both before UW-Parkside and during your time on campus, impact your coaching of  students?

Prior to my role as the Callahan Scholars success coach, I served as a UW-Parkside admissions counselor working with transfer students. Before that I worked with youth and young adults in community and mental health settings, often helping them develop the skills needed to overcome a number of barriers. I believe both experiences have significantly impacted how I coach the Callahan Scholars. Students often just need someone to sit with them, to hold the space for them to uncover what success looks like for them and what steps they need to take to get there. In my role as a success coach, I help students identify campus resources as well as internal resources they possess to overcome potential barriers to their graduation as well as other life goals. In a way, I’m acting as a bridge to help them get connected to where they want to be.

As the Callahan Scholars success coach, what do you consider your greatest joys and  biggest challenges?

Prior to my role as the Callahan Scholars success coach, I served as a UW-Parkside admissions counselor working with transfer students. Before that I worked with youth and young adults in community and mental health settings, often helping them develop the skills needed to overcome a number of barriers. I believe both experiences have significantly impacted how I coach the Callahan Scholars. Students often just need someone to sit with them, to hold the space for them to uncover what success looks like for them and what steps they need to take to get there. In my role as a success coach, I help students identify campus resources as well as internal resources they possess to overcome potential barriers to their graduation as well as other life goals. In a way, I’m acting as a bridge to help them get connected to where they want to be.

The Commons

INSIDE THE CALLAHAN FAMILY STUDENT SUCCESS & LEARNING COMMONS

Located in Wyllie Hall, the newly renovated Callahan Family Student Success & Learning Commons is a key component of the university’s $35.4 million state-funded Wyllie Renewal project and is named in recognition of the Callahan family’s $3 million gift to establish the Callahan Scholars program.

In the Commons, student service offices are co-located to simplify student access to academic advising, career support, tutoring, financial aid, multicultural and international services and other student programs, community engagement, and other resources.  The commons includes locations for students to gather and learn together in meeting rooms and informal seating areas.

Commons map

Navigate-Parkside

NAVIGATE UW-PARKSIDE

To complement and support relationship-based student success strategies like coaching, UW-Parkside leverages EAB’s Student Success Management system called Navigate. UW-Parkside, along with our Moon Shot for Equity regional partners and other UW System campuses, implemented Navigate to improve campus engagement, retention, and graduation rates.

For students: The Navigate app offers a streamlined tool for advisor appointment scheduling, class schedules and to do lists, and links to connect with campus resources.

For faculty and staff: Navigate provides student data and predictive analytics to help the university improve outcomes for students, particularly those at risk of not reaching their goals. Faculty and staff can use this tool to view student progress and receive alerts of risk indicators, refer students to services throughout campus, and communicate with students.

navigate app on phone

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