By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–IU Southeast is partnering with InsideTrack to provide free on-demand coaching to students who may be experiencing difficulties or potential difficulties in many areas of the college experience.
The one-on-one coaching will address areas such as food security, housing, finances, stress, childcare and caregiving, the transition to online learning and managing school.
The program will be available throughout this summer.
InsideTrack is a national nonprofit focused on supporting student success through coaching, building institutional capacity and outreach. In addition, InsideTrack has provided student-centered crisis support services to enrolled, prospective and graduated students in various settings and with diverse student populations. Since 2001, InsideTrack has directly supported more than 2 million students, and currently serves more than 4,000 programs, according to the company website.
InsideTrack’s coaching method matches students to coaches who provide support, like a mentor. They help students prioritize their work and overcome barriers to academic success. They even address students’ life outside of school, which strongly influences persistence, according to a 2013 study of this form of intervention.
“InsideTrack coaches are trained to assess the whole student because we know that life doesn’t stop once you start college,” said Linda Firth, program director.
Coaching begins with strong assessment to identify each student’s particular challenges, but also their strengths and motivations, some of which might not have been apparent. The coaches also learn about any support system that might be available, and help students access low-cost community resources for health and mental health. Coaches work collaboratively with students to explore options and break down their plan into actionable steps, according to Firth.
“We provide space to brainstorm and build confidence, and we provide accountability by following up with students to see how things went and help them plan the next steps forward,” Firth said.
Not surprisingly, the on-demand program emerged during the pandemic, when InsideTrack recognized the need to tailor support to students facing acute episodic challenges to their persistence. InsideTrack created a landing page to introduce its program, and this attracted the attention of Indiana University, which became one of the partnering institutions. Funded by a grant through Educational Credit Management Corporation, the program is free for students.
“Given how the pandemic has affected all our students, we are happy to take advantage of this support opportunity to provide coaching services to our students,” said Dr. Donna Dahlgren, dean of student success at IU Southeast.
To receive on-demand coaching, students sign up via the website here. Within 24 to 48 hours, a coach reaches out to the student via their identified preferred contact method, be it text, phone or email. When they connect, the coach will works with the student for as long as the coach and student feel is appropriate. Students needing additional support can reach out again.
“We believe unconditionally in the potential of the students we work with,” Firth said. “If they didn’t follow through on something we look at it together and figure out how to make a more realistic plan, and we repeat the process until the student feels confident to continue on their own.”
For Ryan Norwood, director of the Student Success Center, the program is a great way to supplement tutoring and counseling already available at IU Southeast.
“The most exciting aspect of this collaboration is another point of access to support students by connecting them with strategies to help them toward success and away from stress and anxiety, and to have easy access to resources they may be unaware of on campus and in the community,” Norwood said. “We have amazing students at IU Southeast, and we certainly want them have access to as many resources that complement and add to their growing collective of success strategies.”