Strong Start for a fresh start

Heading back to school after a break is hard enough. Heading back after 40 years takes a whole other level of resolve. But Susan was ready for a change, and enrolling at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana was just the first step. After getting her degree, she planned to launch her career in medical billing and coding.

But at the same time Susan was committing to her own goals she was also taking on new family commitments, caring full-time for a relative who had just moved in. Her home and her schedule suddenly got more crowded. She opted for online classes, but worried she would be trading convenience for the school community she craved.

Fortunately, Susan already had a built-in college connection. Ivy Tech offered her Strong Start coaching, provided by InsideTrack. InsideTrack has partnered with Ivy Tech since 2014 to enhance student success. Since then, Ivy Tech has increased persistence for underrepresented students by 34 percent while improving completion rates.

Recently, InsideTrack and Ivy Tech launched a new partnership providing Strong Start to online students entering the institution in fall 2017. Strong Start coaches work with new students through their first term of school, helping them anticipate and overcome challenges.

Susan knew her tendency to procrastinate could become a roadblock, so her InsideTrack coach Casey helped her carve out time every day that was designated as “class time.” During these times Susan’s home became a classroom where she could work uninterrupted. To help Susan surmount the technological hurdles of attending school remotely, Casey pointed her toward digital resources and connected her with the tutoring center.

Step by step, Susan recharged her typical routine with the habits of a successful student. But in their near-daily texts, Casey and Susan discussed an issue that was proving tougher to address: Susan’s feelings of isolation from the rest of her classmates. An Ivy Tech team came together to make Susan feel part of the community. With the support of Casey, her professor and her adviser, Susan decided to switch to the on-campus version of one of her courses.

“She reveled in the fact that she was sitting in a classroom learning with her classmates and felt refreshed by this decision,” said Casey.

The pressures that come with starting college can trample the excitement of trying something new. But coaching gives students a fuel reserve to keep tapping into. At 63, Strong Start coaching helped Susan create a classroom experience where she could thrive and propel herself closer to a new career.

Student name has been changed.

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