State, program work together to boost completion rates through coaches and more

scholars-completion-higherFall classes at Ivy Tech Community College aren’t set to begin for another week, but “college success coaches” from a company called InsideTrack are already contacting 21st Century Scholars to help them transition from high school to college.

“A lot of the challenges Ivy Tech students have are challenges that occur outside the classroom,” said Rachel Dykstra Boon, executive director of retention and completion at Ivy Tech.

The goal of the program, which is being made possible through a $2.4 million grant from USA funds to the Indiana Commission For Higher Education, is to help these students overcome barriers to completing college, she said.

Approximately 2,500 college freshmen at Ivy Tech, Indiana State University and IUPUI will benefit from the coaching opportunity, but the largest number — more than 1,000 — attend Ivy Tech, Boon said.

And more than 100 of those Ivy Tech students come from the East Central Region, of which Anderson is a part, she added.

(Next page: About the Scholar program)

Created in 1990, the 21st Century Scholar program has made it possible for thousands of Hoosiers to afford college, according to the Higher Education Commission.

“However, too many scholars never make it to graduation day, leaving them with the dashed dreams and diminished career opportunities that come with some college but no degree,” Teresa Lubbers, commissioner of Higher education, said in a statement.

A pilot program working with these first-year college students began at ISU in 2012, and the results were so encouraging that the university is expanding the program to include its entire entering class of 21st Century Scholars this fall, according to the university.

Josh Williams, associate vice president of program development at California-based InsideTrack, said coaches meet regularly with students, helping them to identify and overcome obstacles, develop back-up plans, connect with and use on campus resources and develop both short-term and long range goals.

He said students also learn the value of self-advocacy, perseverance and follow-through.

“We facilitate an ongoing conversation about what it would take for them to succeed,” Williams said. “We only coach through the first year because we know these enhanced skills can sustain students through the rest of their college career.”

©2014 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.). Visit The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

Add your opinion to the discussion.