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There Exist Proven Approaches to Non-Academic Student Support

The Chronicle of Higher Education

To the Editor:

I would like to praise your article, “Meet Higher Education’s Newest Players: ‘Education Sherpas’” (The Chronicle, August 16), for pointing to the positive impact of providing non-academic student support to help learners navigate the complexities of the educational process. As the leading organization of student-support professionals, NASPA has long recognized the critical importance of offering students professional, non-academic support to help them define their long-term goals and develop a plan for achieving them.

It’s not that the concept of educational sherpas is new. Rather, the shifting demographics of today’s student population are fueling a new urgency behind the push to create networks of human capital devoted to student support. Today, more than 85 percent of undergraduates (approximately 15 million students) are post-traditional learners (i.e., adult learners, working adults, low-income students, commuters, and parents). What’s more, research has shown that the most prevalent reasons that students leave their institutions are non-academic challenges related to balancing work, family and other commitments or finding a sense of connection to the school community. The challenge for higher-education leaders is that the same students enrolling today at the highest rates — first-generation, low-income, and working adult students—are precisely those most likely to lack personal connections to others who have successfully completed post-secondary education.

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Press Releases

InsideTrack Launches Coaching Service to Give SMU Students Career Edge

DALLAS (August 16, 2016) — InsideTrack, the nation’s leading provider of student coaching services, announced today a new career coaching program with Southern Methodist University (SMU) to improve career success and satisfaction among its continuing and professional education students. The program will provide personalized career development support tailored to the needs of working adults.

Over the next two years, the program will serve 450 students enrolled in certificate, professional development and enrichment courses through the University’s Division of Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE). Students will receive up to four months of personalized support from a professional career coach to assist them in defining long-term career objectives and developing critical career planning and workplace skills.

Coaches will engage students through one-to-one meetings, email, and text messaging as well as access to self-guided content through InsideTrack’s uCoach® web and mobile apps. Available from any computer, tablet or smart phone, these apps provide on-demand access to interactive career readiness content on key topics including Networking, Interviews and Landing the Job.

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