This year’s graduating class at Indiana University includes a group of graduates known as the “Great Graduating Eight” who will earn their doctorate in education. The feat of earning a doctoral degree is always impressive, but what’s even more impressive is the way these students went about it. They created a “sister circle” to share, vent and support each other throughout their studies.
Coaching is not a new concept in higher education. In fact, I’ve been working in higher ed coaching for 13 years. Yet it is refreshing and inspiring to see it take on a new, student-facilitated role.
Student support is a critical component of retention and completion, after all; we’ve seen first-hand with our coaching success at Brenau University that a personalized connection can make all the difference in student persistence. Support can take the form of tangible outreach where a student regularly interfaces with a peer, advisor, coach or someone else on campus, or it can be considered intangible where students simply know they have someone in their corner if and when they need encouragement and motivation.
At Helix, coaching is core to our proven retention approach. Relying on data insights, coaches get to know students – their goals, their preferences and their challenges – intimately, much the same way the Great Eight knew each other. Coaches can use this information to reach out, make meaningful connections, nurture relationships and keep students on track.
The graduates feel so strongly about their circle of support that they are “also lobbying Indiana University for administrative support of the circle as well as other initiatives to support underprivileged students,” according to a feature in Inside Higher Ed. Ideally, they would like to keep the sister circle going even after they have graduated, ensuring others can reap the rewards of camaraderie and collaboration that carried them through their program. That, we believe, is the ultimate acknowledgement of the effectiveness of support.
On behalf of Helix Education, congratulations to the Great Graduating Eight on their hard work and tremendous accomplishment!