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Giving students the InsideTrack to graduation

The Office of Undergraduate Studies is excited to announce a partnership with national nonprofit InsideTrack on an ambitious multi-year initiative that will harness the power of one-on-one student success coaching to help more students complete college. The collaboration will provide one-on-one success coaching for up to 500 first-year, high-financial-need students, helping them to navigate a range of complex challenges facing first-time college students. This cohort of  up to 500 students will have access to InsideTack’s virtual success coaches. These coaches will connect with the students and be available for in-depth and engaging one-on-one coaching sessions throughout the academic year.

“Today’s students are facing a broader and more complex range of financial, professional and social-emotional pressures than they have in the past. Colleges have a profound responsibility to help students navigate these myriad factors within and beyond the classroom that influence their academic success,” said Dr. Thomas Chase Hagood, senior associate vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Utah. “This is about scaling the personalized, direct support of success coaching to help students achieve their goals in the critical first year of college.”

The initiative is part of a university-wide shift to address a wide array of factors that impede student success, including time and stress management, connecting to school community, and financial wellness. The last decade has seen the U’s persistence and graduation rates increase by ten percent. Hagood’s arrival in summer 2021 marked the U’s recommitment to a student-driven, data-informed approach to providing an Exceptional Educational Experience for and with every student. The efforts to raise first-year persistence are helping to address the ambitious higher education attainment goal set by the Utah Board of Higher Education to increase the percentage of Utah high school graduates enrolling in college within five years to 75% by 2025.

Staff from Utah’s Student Success Coaching unit will partner with InsideTrack to build and expand the university’s capacity to provide personalized support to all students. Using InsideTrack’s proven coaching methodology, Utah will be able to use a single, evidence-based approach to coaching, helping to meet the wide variety of barriers to student success. Utah’s Student Success Coaches will conduct outreach campaigns to inform students of their services and use institutional data to identify students who could benefit from a coaching session.. Students also can directly schedule appointments with the coaches through their website www.ssc.utah.edu.

In addition to providing direct coaching for first-year students, InsideTrack will also work with the university over the next two years to establish the internal diagnostics, training process, certification and professional development to operate its own coaching program. At the end of this first phase, the university will be able to implement a train-the-trainer model that will enable staff to sustain the program for years to come and replicate and expand the coaching program using completely internal resources.

“While addressing affordability is critical, students from under-resourced backgrounds often face an array of other challenges beyond finances that can impact student success,” said Malika Clinkscales, associate vice president of partner success at InsideTrack. “This is about combining financial access with the power of success coaching to ensure that every student has the support they need to thrive and achieve their educational potential.”