Randolph Community College is making sure more students get to graduation day.
RCC incorporated success coaches as part of a federally funded case study that looked at how this one-on-one support could improve the chances of students finishing their degrees.
They focus on proactive outreach instead of waiting for a problem or students to come to them.
“I know their schedules. I pull it up on my iPad. I meet them outside the door. We walk across campus to their next class,” success coach Pam Wiggins said.
“Everyone doesn’t come to college with the same understanding, with the same resources. If you are a first-generation student or if you are new to our country, you may not have the college knowledge,” success coach Dr. Jae Archer said.
The coaches stay with students throughout their academic journey.
Their goal is to connect students to the on-campus and community resources they may need to stay focused on getting an education while balancing other responsibilities.
Bennette Copeland is studying commercial photography while running a business and appreciates the additional support.
“Even if it’s just remembering things that you need because you have so much on your mind,” he said.
Jamie Sienko aspires to run a real estate company and is in school as a new mom.
“That was very tough at first. It took a little while to get used to. Once we got the hang of it, I think we’ve been doing pretty well,” she said.
Jessica Morales was previously enrolled at RCC but left.
She says her success coach, Wiggins, gave her the confidence to come back and pursue her graphic design dreams.
“She was like, ‘I’m going to be there for you. I’m going to be that person to help you get through it,’” Morales said.
The study’s findings show the investment works.
“We did see a huge gain in retention, 5 percentage points is what we saw for the students who had a success coach,” Dean of Curriculum Programs Melinda Eudy said.
RCC has kept the two success coaches on board even after the study.
The college plans to add another success coach this fall.