On-Demand Coaching wrap-up: Coming together to help students in need
The last 18 months have been an extraordinary time, as the pandemic continues to challenge both students and higher ed institutions across the nation. Throughout the bulk of that time, we were proud to create, launch and run the On-Demand Coaching Network, dedicated to helping students who found themselves in crisis or needing additional support.
We are extremely grateful to the colleges, universities and workforce programs that participated in the network, as well as the funders who made it possible. We humbly appreciate the tireless efforts of our team of coaches and the people behind the scenes who always did whatever was needed. Most of all, we’re awed by the more than 1,000 students who had the courage to step forward and ask for assistance, sharing their personal stories along the way. The fact that we were able to mobilize the resources to form this much-needed network — during a pandemic, no less — is a testament to the dedication of student support professionals at every level. For InsideTrack, this is the type of mission-centered work that allows us to make real impact with meaningful results.
Amy*, an allied health program student, contacted On-Demand Coaching for support with a multitude of stressors, including trouble paying bills, accessing needed medication, and managing the loss of a close personal relationship. In addition, her car needed repairs and she would need a way to get to her clinical placements the following month. Working with a coach, Amy was able to clarify priorities and make concrete plans to address her needs. Her top priority was holding her spot in her competitive program — especially since she had worked so hard to get accepted. Amy has managed to stay in school and says she is feeling stronger. She touches base with her coach once a week by text, saying that it helps to know someone is in her corner. Amy has started her clinical experience with a renewed pride in her skills and greater resilience.
On-Demand Coaching by the numbers
Backed by grant funding from ECMC Foundation and Strada Education Network, the InsideTrack On-Demand Coaching Network was launched as a no-cost way for colleges to support students in need — getting personalized help to students while reducing strain on campus staff during a challenging time. For the 20 institutions that signed up, their students had access to direct coaching from specially trained InsideTrack coaches. Here are some quick numbers that show how impactful this partnership was:
- The program ran for 16 months – wrapping up at the end of 2021
- More than 1,000 students were supported – many reaching out more than once
- In total, 1,037 unique coaching topics came up during the length of the program
- Our coaching team spent 431 hours off the phones doing research or advocating for resources
- 56% of the students required crisis coaching from the InsideTrack Crisis Support Services team
- 17% of the students needed support for additional issues that surfaced during their work with the Crisis Support Services team
Dee* is a community college student in Arizona. When she first reached out during the early months of COVID-19, her work hours had been cut and after covering basic expenses, she didn’t have enough money for food. Over the next several months, her coach helped connect her to a food bank and several other resources that helped fill in the gaps. When winter set in, Dee’s furnace broke and she needed surgery. Throughout all these setbacks, Dee remained in contact with her coach. They worked on finding resources to repair the broken furnace and the stove that wouldn’t light, along with options for food or rent money. By spring, her foot had healed enough that Dee could return to work. Things turned a corner and Dee expressed gratitude for having someone walking beside her through her challenges.
Support for the future: Advice from the On-Demand Coaching team
The partner schools in the On-Demand Coaching Network provided many wonderful services for their students. It was clear to the InsideTrack coaches that these schools cared deeply about student success. The challenges came from being overwhelmed by the pandemic and all the issues that came with it. Here are some of the programs and practices we encountered at various schools that we believe most contributed to student success. We see them as “best practices” that we wish every school could implement for their students. It’s clear that time, resources, staff, and funding are all in short supply so no school can do all of these things. That said, we encourage you to take a look at these important resources and practices, celebrate the ones you already have in place, and consider which others your student support team might be able to implement.
- Free, 24/7 counseling services for students in crisis
- Food pantries on campus, with flexible hours and few to no paperwork requirements
- A robust emergency fund with a simple and easily accessible application
- A school website that is up to date, especially with information about the pandemic or natural disasters
- Virtual appointments with faculty and staff that students can self-schedule
- Ombudsman Office with an easily accessible link and clear explanation of how students can make use of the Ombudsman on the school website
- Staffing models, technology, and workflows that allow for quick response to student outreach
- A program to provide access to laptops and internet hotspots to students who are struggling financially
- Mandatory orientations for first-generation and vulnerable students that includes information about resources available on campus, financial aid responsibilities, and opportunities
- Consistent policies involving late work, make-up tests, etc. between departments – including clear and simple appeal procedures for students experiencing unusual circumstances
Celia* was having trouble navigating school online. She felt disconnected and had no idea about the resources and support that were available at her institution. She worked with her coach to identify who the appropriate, supportive campus personnel would be to answer her questions. Her coach affirmed her challenges and the steps she had taken so far to best transition into her new learning environment. By the start of the next semester, Celia trusted her coach enough to share that she wanted to focus on her mental health. Her coach leaned into the power of checking in, being present, listening, and asking questions to help move Celia forward.
The need for supporting enrolled and prospective students in times of crisis continues to rise. Our “Students in Crisis” report takes an in-depth look at InsideTrack’s Crisis Support Services team – including types of situations addressed, how trauma-informed coaching works, and key findings over a two-year period.
*Disclaimer: Student names have been changed.