A college freshman finds his future

When Brad Lee was a senior in high school, his father passed away. This life-changing tragedy was still deeply affecting him when he started his freshman year of college at Old Dominion University (ODU). What should have been an exciting, optimistic time in this young man’s life was anything but. “I didn’t really feel like there was a future at all,” Brad said. But then a meeting with his success coach started to turn the tide. 

An important partnership

As they evaluated how to improve their student support practices, Old Dominion University  (ODU) identified a real need to help potentially at-risk freshman navigate the higher ed system and feel comfortable during their first year in college. To meet that need, ODU partnered with InsideTrack to create a multi-level customized coaching program designed to catalyze greater student success.


The partnership between ODU and InsideTrack was designed in three distinct phases. During the first phase, InsideTrack coached students directly while training ODU staff members in how to use and adapt their proven methodology. In the second phase, ODU established their own coaching program with oversight from experienced InsideTrack coaches. In the final phase, ODU took complete charge of their in-house coaching program — a program tailor-made for their students and their school.

A measurable difference 

Known as “Mane Connect,” ODU’s in-house coaching program has proven to be very successful. Coached students have seen measurable improvements — most noticeably in terms of their persistence. Students who might have otherwise felt lost, overwhelmed, or even unsure how the higher ed system worked are now fully immersed in their college experience and on track to graduate. 

Brad was one of these students. He credits his coach with helping him “climb back up” and giving him an instant “personal connection with someone here at ODU.” It made him feel that he was right where he needed to be. And the support wasn’t coming only from his coach. “Everybody was emailing me from different departments at Old Dominion. For them to be like ‘hey, we want you to be at this university’ meant so much.”

“I had a whole new mindset. I was happier coming to school and had more of a purpose to be here.” – Brad Lee, student, Old Dominion University

These personal connections, Brad says, “gave me more of a purpose” and made him “a lot more determined to succeed.” By the time he was a sophomore, he says he felt himself change. “I had a whole new mindset. I was happier coming to school and had more of a purpose to be here. Not only to make myself proud, but my success coach as well, because every time I do something good, she's like, ‘Yes, Brad, you did it. You did it!’”

“Now the future seems a lot brighter.” – Brad Lee, student, Old Dominion University

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