By Dave Larsen, Staff Writer

DAYTON — The University of Dayton’s new personal success coach service for incoming first-year students is like a car navigation system, said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management.

“It doesn’t take you from Point A to Point B, but it gives you the shortest route,” he said.

The coaches help students to focus and develop independent living skills as they transition from high school to college life.

UD is one of the first schools in the nation to offer success coaches for all incoming freshmen, Kumarasamy said. He developed the program with InsideTrack, a student coaching company in San Francisco.

“We wanted to give them guidance that might vary from situation to situation,” Kumarasamy said.

Riley Quinn’s success coach makes the first-year student feel like she already has a support system in place at the university.

“Especially being away from home for quite a distance, it will be nice to have somebody there that I can talk to,” said Quinn, 18, of Rochester, N.Y. “If I need a little bit of assistance or guidance it’s there to help me.”

New students received a pamphlet about the service with their acceptance letter, followed by a preliminary call from their coach.

Coaching is offered for six months before the start of classes and during the first semester.

Students can choose a regular coaching model with structured counseling or a light model that allows them to call their coach whenever they have a need.

Kumarasamy expected about 400 students to make use of regular coaching and the rest to use the light coaching option.

The Seattle-based coaches will connect students with the appropriate campus service provider to address their needs.

“We didn’t want to start prescribing solutions on a one-size-fits-all model,” Kumarasamy said. “We wanted to individualize it.”

The service is not currently available to returning or transfer students.

The program represents a “significant investment” for the university, Kumarasamy said. He declined to disclose the cost.

Student success is “priceless” to the university, which last year established an Office of Student Success, Kumarasamy said.

Students can continue with a success coach after their first semester at a personal cost of $500 per semester, he said.

Success coaching also benefits UD, which can learn about the needs of students and the effectiveness of its services.

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