Nonprofit Adult-Serving University Trains Staff as Coaches to Boost Adult Learner Success

In collaboration with InsideTrack, National University embarks on a three-year-long program to build a corps of in-house student success coaches 

SAN DIEGO (June 15, 2022)National University, a private nonprofit university that serves more than 30,000 working adult learners, online students, educators, and members of the military community, today announced an ambitious new initiative aimed at improving student outcomes by training hundreds of staff and advisors to apply one-on-one success coaching in their outreach and communication with students. With capacity-building and training support from the national student success nonprofit InsideTrack, the university will work over the next three years to create an in-house coaching program to help more adult learners overcome barriers to success and completion.

“The adult students and diverse students that we serve lead rich, full lives. They are constantly attending to a delicate balance of academic, career, family, and personal commitments. Coaching is about working holistically with each student to help them navigate those commitments and fulfill their educational and career aspirations,” said Brad Dotson, director of student success at National University. “We were impressed by the initial impact and success of the coaching pilot program we collaborated on with InsideTrack a year ago, and we’re excited to embrace the challenge of scaling this program to reach a larger number of learners and help them achieve their education and career goals.”

The innovative coaching initiative is part of National University’s effort to serve a highly diverse population of students that reflect the shifting demographics of students in higher education today. Approximately 70 percent of NC’s students take the majority of their classes online. More than 25 percent identify as Hispanic, and 10 percent identify as Black. More than 80 percent of undergraduates are transfer students. The average age is 33. And about one in four students are active-duty service members or veterans.

The expansion of the coaching program builds on a successful collaboration with InsideTrack focused on reaching students at risk of academic failure. In 2021, the university worked with InsideTrack to deploy its evidence-based student support model to assist students who had received either an academic warning or probation. Coaches successfully engaged more than 800 academically at-risk students who had either received an academic warning or been placed on academic probation.

Based on the success of that initial program, the university will expand its engagement with InsideTrack, working with the institution to help more underserved students achieve academic success. Over the next three years, National University will work with InsideTrack to scale up this effective coaching program by implementing a train-the-trainer model that will upskill and certify frontline student support staff on best practices in student success coaching.

To begin the expanded partnership, student success staff at National University have been working with InsideTrack to conduct a program diagnostic study that will identify opportunities for the institution to better address the pain points and barriers facing students. The two organizations are now in the process of launching an ongoing course of professional development and training that will educate frontline student success staff on the fundamentals of success coaching.

As it develops, the capacity-building partnership will culminate with participating National University staff and advisors completing a certification process that will enable them to train others as coaches—creating a scalable model that will enable the university to maintain and expand the program in years to come.

“As a former community college student, a lifelong learner, and single mother, I’ve gained a unique appreciation of the complex and varied challenges that today’s students face,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “We need to ask ourselves how institutions can become more student-ready, instead of asking students to become college-ready. This work is about building the sort of student-ready support infrastructure that can help every learner succeed.”

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About National University: National University, a veteran-founded nonprofit, has been dedicated to meeting the needs of hard-working adults by providing accessible, affordable, achievable higher education opportunities since 1971. As San Diego’s largest private nonprofit university, NU offers over 75 online and on-campus programs and flexible four-week classes designed to help students reach their goals while balancing busy lives. Since its founding, the NU community has grown to over 30,000 students and 190,000 alumni around the globe, many of whom serve in helping industries such as business, education, health care, cybersecurity, and law and criminal justice. Learn more at NU.edu. 

About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.6 million learners, partnering with more than 250 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner — from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person — including first generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services — designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack

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