Strayer University has admissions counselors who guide applicants through every step of the process, helping them find the answers and resources they need. But the guidance doesn’t end at admission. From the time students are enrolled to the time they graduate, they have access to a Student Services Coach. Crystal Reyes, Student Services Coach for Strayer, recently answered some questions about this role.
What is a Student Services Coach?
Our primary objective is to be the main point of contact for students for both finances, including financial aid, and academics. We want to help students succeed all the way to graduation, and beyond. So the Student Services Coach is there to help students navigate school and their next career or educational steps. We’re there to help them overcome obstacles along the way and refine their goals.
What does a Student Services Coach do?
Academic and career goal guidance
We also work with students academically and personally. Student Services Coaches can assist with anything from issues with a professor to getting along with other students to time management. We help them sort through the course of their program, picking which classes match with what, helping them to avoid being overloaded in labs or with writing papers. When they want to switch programs, we help them work through why they want to do that and the different options they can explore to achieve their long-term goals and interests. We work with issues they may experience with their professors and guide their means of communicating; we often discuss about how just because they may not get along with their professor doesn’t mean they should leave the course. They need to learn to compromise, work with those they don’t necessarily agree with, and take charge of their actions.
Financial aid and finance support
It’s a wide-ranging role. For example, many students enter school not understanding financial aid. They don’t realize that some loans have a maximum lifetime limit. They may get to their last year and suddenly can’t figure out how they’re going to pay for the rest. We can try to help them understand the rules up front, or if they get into a bind, we can help them search for resources and figure out alternative plans so they don’t have to give up their degree.
If students fall into Suspension status, we help them get back into the University through a method called “appealing.” It’s very intimate and tedious, requiring a lot of patience and large levels of trust with the students to make this process successful.
Academic career and lifestyle alignment
Generally, we help them plan out their entire academic career with what best suits their lifestyle. I know some of my students take summers off religiously. Or take an additional class in fall because business gets slower that season. When my students get married, they like to take the quarter off, so we discuss whether it’s best for them to add additional classes to the next couple quarters to make sure they’re on track for their original graduation date, or if they’re okay having it be put off a quarter or two due to the break.
Life after Strayer support
Towards the end of their degree, we walk them through commencement. If a student isn’t taking the idea of leaving well because they’re so used to doing this year over year and are scared to move into the next chapter of their life, I like to connect them to our SOAR program so they can talk with people in their business to kind of pave the way and make them feel more secure. For example, connect students in our Criminal Justice Program to Police or Correctional Supervisors.
How do Student Services Coaches support Strayer students?
Besides helping with financial aid or academic issues, we often assist students in developing confidence. They may come into the school thinking they know what they want to do, but they’re often not confident in their capacity to succeed. If they need to change direction, that can be a confidence problem, too.
What makes a good Student Services Coach?
Across the board, listening. All human beings like to talk about themselves, and they like to feel they’ve been heard. As coaches, we need to listen in order to build trust. We often deal with very personal situations, especially in cases of academic appeals. But we also handle situation such as, “I have a chronically ill family member, how do I manage my schoolwork?” If we’re listening, and if we’ve built trust, students are more likely to bring their concerns to us so we can help guide them along. And if they bring us these concerns, we have a better chance of helping them find a solution so they can finish their degrees. It’s all about listening and being trustworthy.
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