In an effort to better serve NIU students, the Office of Student Academic Success (OSAS) made some changes to help support student success initiatives.
Last fall, the OSAS made the decision to centralize their student success specialists. Once spread out across campus in each of the academic colleges, the specialists are now located in the Academic Advising Center Building.
“Having everyone in one location has allowed us to better serve students,” said Dana Gautcher, director of OSAS. “The student success specialists are able to seamlessly collaborate with one another to devise specialized success plans for individual students. Furthermore, the feedback we’ve received from students about having our student success specialists in one location has been extremely positive.”
Missy Lugo, a student success specialist, said that being stationed in one location makes supporting one another much easier.
“Restructuring has allowed us to collaborate and more effectively support the colleges’ needs from one central location,” Lugo said. “Although we are no longer physically located in the colleges we represent, we have been given the opportunity to make a larger impact on our students and the NIU community.”
Student success specialists employ a coaching model based on research and existing models, as well as information in the fields of higher education, counseling and psychology.
The coaching model focuses on helping students overcome obstacles while employing positive psychology to improve student success. The model encourages students to take charge of developing and refining their ability to self-advocate as well as to make informed decisions about their education.
Student Success Specialist Ashleigh Sorenson said the coaching process begins as soon as they meet the students.
“We partner with students to assist them as they work toward their goals by providing support, encouragement and campus resources,” Sorneson said. “Based on our conversations, we work with them to develop a plan of action.”
Through a model of developmental advocacy, student success specialists partner with faculty, advisers, residence hall directors and other pertinent staff at NIU to help students take ownership of their education. They assist students in the development of their rational process, environmental and interpersonal interactions, behavioral awareness and problem-solving, decision-making and evaluation skills.
Additionally, the specialists use retention initiatives that include:
- Early Alert Referral System (E.A.R.S.)
- Student Success Collaborative
- Edible Education
- Mid-Semester Check
- Destination Graduation
- Financial Cents
Student success specialists are on-call during normal business hours and available to meet with students who require immediate assistance or to work with faculty and staff to aid students who need additional assistance.