Every student at Columbia College approaches their education in their own unique way.
Whether it be drinking copious amounts of coffee while cramming for a test, using a No. 2 pencil (and only a No. 2 pencil) while taking notes, submitting the FAFSA the first day it is out or having constant contact with their new Student Success Coach, everyone is different.
That fact is the driving force behind the new Center for Student Success. The one-stop shop now combines Student Success, Enrollment Service Center and the Admissions Contact Center.
This comprehensive, college-wide program tailors support services around the holistic needs of each individual student, offering coaching related to academics, financial aid and overall college experience while forming a team around the student from their initial inquiry through graduation.
“The most important thing for students to know from this initiative is that they are the most important thing,” says Dixie Williams, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing. “Columbia College is dedicated to the student’s success and believes fully in that, so we are putting resources where they belong — in direct support of students.”
“The most important thing for students to know from this initiative is that they are the most important thing.”Dixie Williams, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing
Student Success Coaches are available one-on-one to students enrolled at any CC location or Online, says Stephanie Whitener, senior director of Student Success. There are 17 coaches on staff.
The coaches work in tandem with other team members such as academic advisors and recruiters.
“We are not the end-all be-all, but we can help get students where they need to go,” Whitener said of the coaches. “We are proud to partner with students along their journey.”
Senior Student Success Coach Elizabeth Harris is one such partner. Based in Georgia, Harris says her goal is to help students navigate “nitty-gritty questions,” including those related to financial aid as well as balancing work and school.
“It makes a difference to have people at the school who are rooting for you,” Harris says. “That is a game-changer when it comes to completing a degree that can be filled with challenges and obstacles. We see obstacles and challenges as opportunities, and I think a coach can really help folks navigate those well. That’s why we do what we do.”
Coaches connect with students by phone, Zoom, email or in person. Students can contact the center at email@example.com, (573) 875-7252 or stop by Missouri Hall 205 on main campus.
“No matter what your background is, there’s a coach here who wants to talk with you and wants to support you,” Harris says.
Nicole Roberts, a junior majoring in nursing, vouches for the value of the coach-student relationship. Roberts says she visits monthly with Rachel Smith, director of the Center for Student Success.
“(Smith) is my go-to person,” Roberts says. “She is so helpful and wants me to succeed as we sit down together and plan out each year and how I can be successful each semester. If I have any difficult questions, she is the one to help me get in contact with other people who can answer my questions.”
Interactions with the center are “not a cookie-cutter experience,” Whitener says.
“We really want to get to know students – get to know them for who they are, what they bring to the table, and utilize the strengths they have,” she says.
“We are here to be a sounding board and also to highlight opportunities for growth. The center is hoping to tailor that student experience to really empower them and to encourage that growth and to gain ownership in their own path toward graduation.”
The new structure combines the expertise of three different former offices and places them all under the same umbrella for a stronger, more cohesive approach, Whitener says.
“We all want to be seen, we want to be heard, we want to know that we’re cared for,” Whitener says. “To be able to have a center where that’s really the core of it is really exciting and really does fit the mission of Columbia College.”
As part of this initiative, CC has partnered with Stellic, an online platform for planning and advising in higher education. Stellic puts tools at the fingertips of the student and increases capacity for staff.
Williams says she is thrilled CC is putting these resources to work for students.
“This new center and this coaching model are meant to provide someone the student can rely on for their entire academic career,” Williams says. “Someone they can go to for anything, someone that they have a relationship with.”