Golden Rams Stay on Track with Success Coaching
Fall semester wasn’t easy for West Chester University senior Courtney Bodle. The nutrition and dietetics major says she struggles with technology and finds online instruction to be more challenging. Time management also has been tougher for her in the remote world. Bodle’s microbiology professor noticed she could use some assistance and referred her to WCU’s Success Coaching program.
Success Coaching is a free, peer-to-peer program available to all WCU students that is one of the many learning and support services offered by University College. Individualized to each student’s needs, success coaching can help with study skills, note-taking techniques, test and finals preparation, effective communication, combatting procrastination, stress reduction, self-care and more.
During the fall semester, Bodle was busy not only with classwork but with campus sustainability initiatives including the North and South Campus Gardens. Keeping track of her schedule was hard. Success Coach Stefan Martyniak showed Bodle how to set up an online Google calendar so that she didn’t miss synchronous class sessions, online club meetings, project deadlines, and other commitments. He also stressed the importance of avoiding negative self-talk.
“Thanks to Stefan’s patience and understanding, things improved for me as the semester progressed,” she says. Bodle was just one of Martyniak’s success stories. He coached 15 students during the fall semester, including a student he met with regularly who saw one class grade rise from a D at the start of Success Coaching to a B- at the end of the semester.
After just a few Zoom sessions with her Success Coach, Bodle felt like she was back on track. “Stefan went out of his way to help me,” says Bodle. “We worked on time management and organizational skills and he also helped me figure out technology issues. For example, I needed to learn how to edit a PDF for one of my classes; we ended up learning together.”
“Success Coaching is designed to be goal-oriented,” says Rita Patel Eng, coordinator of the program. “Students and their Success Coaches come up with a game plan for working on goals. For some students, achieving results might mean weekly 1-1 sessions throughout the semester; for other students, several sessions may be all that’s needed.”
Students are often able to choose their own coaches, based on scheduling availability. Bios for each of the coaches can be found on the Success Coaching website. All coaches are graduate students who are trained to offer personalized support.
“We have a coach who is a first-generation student, a coach who was home-schooled, another who serves in the military, and a number who are from diverse backgrounds,” says Patel Eng. “Students and coaches are able to form connections based on their shared experiences.”
“Courtney and I don’t have the same major – I majored in psychology as an undergrad – or otherwise come from the same backgrounds, but we have connected around the challenges we’ve both experienced this year,” says Martyniak. “Letting the students know that it hasn’t been easy for me is helpful in itself, I think.”
“The students I’ve worked with, including Courtney, realize that they have a lot to be proud of,” says Martyniak. “The positives coming out of 2020 include recognizing and celebrating our perseverance. Employers are going to be impressed with the way today’s students have succeeded despite many obstacles.”
Rate your virtual Success Coaching experience:
What themes were covered during your Success Coaching sessions?*Out of 24 participants
23 - Goal Setting
21 - Time Management
10 - Note Taking
4 - Active Reading
11 - Effective Study Techniques
5 - Peer Study Groups
11 - Test Preparation
6 - Finals Preparation
12 - Personal Concerns
7 - Effective Communication
2 - Other
8 - Connecting to Campus Resources
17 - Procrastination
12 - Self care
10 - Transition to Support Online Learning D2L
10 - Help with Scheduling myWCU