Defining Student Success Means Looking at the Whole Individual

Dr. Stacey Randall

If you read any national articles about higher education, you’re likely to find the phrase “student success” used in almost every paragraph. But what those articles don’t often tell you is what they mean by student success – do they mean degree and certificate completion, meeting a personal or professional goal, or gaining a new skill? When you ask students how to define success, you might get answers that range from “I want to get an A in that class” to “I need to take three classes to be eligible for a promotion at work” or “I’m planning on pursing a medical degree and I need to complete my associate degree in order to transfer to a four-year school.” At Waubonsee Community College, we are committed to helping each of those students be successful. This year, Waubonsee is launching the Connect4Success program to help even more students define what success means to them and meet their personal goals.

The Connect4Success program is funded through a Title V grant that Waubonsee received from the United States Department of Education in the fall of 2015. The five-year grant is funding a team of Success Coaches who will be providing enhanced support services for eligible students. The Connect4Success program was created after reviewing similar programs at other colleges that focused on supporting students and encouraging their personal and academic success. Students who are eligible for the Connect4Success program will have personalized, one-on-one interaction with a Success Coach who will help them with studying and academics, connecting to college resources, managing their personal finances, juggling multiple roles (college student, parent, employee, spouse, caregiver, etc.), and providing tips for minimizing stress. The program will also connect students with community resources to help reduce the external pressures many students have as they try to juggle work, family and school.

Waubonsee applied for a Title V grant to ensure that there were targeted resources available to create a program that was focused on student needs, driven by a singular focus on increasing success – defined by each participant in the program. We’re reviewing models at other institutions, we’re examining our own data, and we’re developing a program that works for our students. The Success Coaches will be connecting with students using the tools and on a schedule that works for them. They will be emailing, texting, video chatting, and meeting in person to help their students navigate through college processes, which can often be frustrating, especially to first generation students.

To learn more about the new Connect4Success program, please visit our website at www.waubonsee.edu/experience/services/connect-4-success/ or call 630-801-7900, ext. 4660.