Follow an unsure freshman from his wobbly first steps at college to his bold strides on graduation day
One of the most inspiring aspects of our student-centered work at InsideTrack is knowing that we make a positive difference in student lives. Though this is affirmed time and again by hard facts and figures about the measurable effects of coaching – such as the percentage increases in student retention or the rise in the number of students completing their programs — the best way to learn about how we affect student success is from our coached students themselves. So it was very rewarding to catch up with Old Dominion University (ODU) student Christian Manty — someone we first met as a freshman at the start of his college experience —on the heels of his college graduation.
A supported start
Like most incoming freshmen, Christian Manty showed up at Old Dominion University feeling less than confident. His success coach, Maria Doran, became a “guiding light” through very unfamiliar territory. “It was nice to feel welcomed, especially in an environment where I feel like I’m in a maze.” He says that having someone “shepherd me through” was really helpful. Christian goes on to explain that this is his first time living outside of his parents’ house. “It’s really easy to feel lost and not know what to do,” he says. “Having a success coach helps me as someone who is spreading their wings and learning how to take on more responsibilities.”
Addressing academic challenges and empowering students to maximize available campus resources is another hallmark of direct success coaching. “Mrs. Doran helped me apply for an internship that involves international studies. She connected me to the writing success center. She helped me file my own FAFSA. For planning the future, she’s really helping me explore what my major entails. It’s nice having a guiding light.”
Christian and his coach met regularly – once every two weeks to start with – and the meetings provided some welcome structure for Christian, along with the flexibility to address unexpected challenges. “We always have a set goal in mind when we walk into the meetings. But if we need to change focus because of something that’s arisen between our last meeting and the current one, we can just switch.” He says that when meeting with his coach, they always focus on what to do and how to move forward.
A successful handoff
When we help an institution create their own in-house coaching program through capacity building, it’s steeped in the evidence-based, research-confirmed methodology of InsideTrack coaching — making it possible for the school to create campus-wide impact that’s scaled and sustainable. In this case, our multi-year partnership relationship with ODU went from direct coaching to capacity building that helped them implement their own program, called Mane Connect. In receiving coaching through Mane Connect, Christian benefitted from the InsideTrack coaching methodology. So long after our involvement in direct coaching has left campus, the impact will continue to be felt for years to come — in students just like Christian.
A strong finish
Considering that nearly half of Christian’s time at ODU took place during the pandemic, it’s not surprising that he describes his time in college as “tough.” The last two years have been extra challenging, and where there were additional supports — such as Mane Connects student coaching — students like Christian benefitted. In fact, he cites Maria’s help as being instrumental. “My success coach was really awesome in being a personal teammate of mine, making sure that I was set personally, socially, academically, and she gave me the advice that I needed to find my true calling as far as academics go and, eventually, my future career.”
Now that he has his diploma in hand and his own success story to share, what would Christian say to other students thinking about working with a student success coach? “The advice I would give to a student considering the success coaching program is to just do it, no matter what, whether you feel confident or insecure about where you’re going to end up in four years or 10 years. I think that the success coaching program is a really strong effort by ODU to make sure that there’s someone always on your team as a student.”
Any final words from the triumphant grad? “It feels awesome to be graduating. I’m really happy for what the future holds for me. And with the skill sets that I prepared at ODU and that ODU has helped foster within me, I think I’m really able to go out and make my mark upon the world.”
InsideTrack is proud to play a small role in supporting students like Christian in reaching their educational and career goals, through degree completion and beyond. We celebrate Old Dominion University in building a robust, holistic coaching program that’s going strong providing additional support to students who need it most. And a big congratulations to Christian too. We can’t wait to see what you do next!
We were there when Christian first started ODU and there again on graduation day. Watch Christian’s video that speaks to his journey and how his student success coach was part of his story. Special thanks for additional graduation footage – ODU Graduation footage © 2022, Old Dominion UniversityWatch Christian's Journey