The first year of college is a crucial time for freshmen. They begin the path that will lead them to both academic and personal success, meet new people, are exposed to new experiences and for many of them, it’s their first taste of living away from home. It’s a time most students look forward to, but it can also be challenging and overwhelming once school starts.
“This is their first time away from home,” says Dr. Beth Holder, associate dean of the new Freshman Success Program at High Point University. “It can be overwhelming deciding what classes to take, what they should major in, dealing with homesickness and finding out where they belong. They don’t necessarily need counseling; sometimes they just need purposeful encouragement.”
That’s where the new Freshman Success Program comes in. Holder and six freshmen success coaches are working to make the transition from home to college as smooth as possible for HPU’s freshman class.
The coaches; Brittney Carl, Doug Hall, Akir Khan, Leigh Ann Lindsay, Dr. Lynne Murray and Dr. Jason Vuic come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Carl has degrees in both Exercise Sports Science and Higher Education Administration; Hall has worked in everything from college recruitment to the City of Greensboro’s Workforce Development; Khan has business degrees and is working on his doctorate in educational leadership; Lindsay is a former English Teacher; Murray worked for Guilford County Schools for 26 years; and Vuic is a former Fulbright Scholar, history professor and Rotary International Scholar.
Now, they all have the same calling, to point HPU freshman down the road to success. Each coach called all of their students before classes started to introduce themselves, and to let freshmen know that if they have any questions or concerns, they have one contact person that can help them with anything.
“HPU has so many fantastic programs for students,” says Holder. “But when you are new to campus, you don’t always know who to go to and it can be overwhelming. That’s where we can help get them to where they need to go. We call them ‘coaches’ because they’re more than just academic advisors, even though that is a major part of what they do, but they aren’t limited to that, they’ll help the student with anything they need help with.”
“There is real value in developing relationships with students to help them achieve their goals, and I feel that being a success coach will allow me to push students to their potentials,” says Lindsay.
In addition to helping students down the right academic path, the coaches are also available if any student is struggling personally.
“We were looking for people with passion, purpose and ability to work with this age group,” says Holder.