What we knew conclusively was that we needed to get our new students off to a better start and set them up for success from the onset. New students were not using our technology resources, either from lack of knowledge or lack of effort. We also identified a gap in the handoff from admissions to the faculty advisor. Thus, we restructured the coordinator of advising position into what we now call the student success coordinator. This person, who reports directly to Enrollment Management, specifically serves the new student population by overseeing student registration, the introduction to Carlow’s resources, and the seamless hand-off to the student’s faculty advisor after the add/drop period.

Having a clear direction for the student success coordinator has led to increased understanding of the faculty advisor’s role, and since the students are getting off to a better start, they are more aware of the campus resources and the self-service tools at their disposal. All of which has made life a lot easier for the student and advisor.

The student success coordinator works closely with the Student Hub to ensure that students are aware of the services it offers. Students work with their faculty advisors on course selection, career advice, and other advising-specific matters but can visit the Student Hub for general assistance. If a student has an inquiry that is better addressed by an advisor, the Student Hub gives students a clear pathway and reasoning for this and will provide department chair or program director information should the advisor be unavailable.

Assessing our efforts

To evaluate the results of this position change, we contacted all new Spring 2019 students (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral). Out of the 200+ students, we surveyed more than 27 percent and 99 percent of those we spoke with spoke positively of their onboarding experience and felt that they were well-informed of campus resources and connected to their advisor thanks to the seamless hand-off from the student success coordinator. We observed a dramatic decrease in students visiting the Student Hub because they were unable to connect with their advisor or were not sure where to find their advisor’s information.

Related: Addressing student success: strategies and tools

In closing, restructuring the advising position into a student success coordinator role required collaboration among several departments, high-level administrator support, and a formal assessment of the critical needs of our non-traditional incoming student population. We improved the onboarding experience to orient new students to our on-campus systems and resources, easing any discomfort they felt due to lack of knowledge or experience. We also created an environment in which we emphasized how important the connection is between new students and their advisors, setting the stage for a relationship that we recognized as key to a student’s educational experience.

About the Author:

Jason Krall is assistant provost for academic operations at Carlow University in Pennsylvania. He has been in higher education for more than 20 years. His background spans Career Services, Academic Affairs, Registrar, Adjunct Faculty, and Student Hub positions in the for-profit education sector, private, and large public institutions.

Liz McClintock is registrar at Carlow University.