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A Legacy of Service to Those Who Serve: Spotlight on Coaching Military Students at Brandman University

A Legacy of Service to Those Who Serve

Spotlight on Coaching Military Students at Brandman University

In 1958, Chapman University, one of California’s oldest, most prestigious, nonprofit institutions, opened a campus at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to serve the specific needs of military students. Now called Brandman University, it’s a separate, regionally accredited school within The Chapman System, dedicated to serving the needs of military and civilian students.

As part of its deep commitment to helping military-connected students succeed, Brandman has led student-centered innovation ever since its inception. In addition to other hallmarks of a “military-friendly” institution, including credit for service, flexible course delivery and strong student outcomes, Brandman exceeds expectations to ensure these offerings translate to improved student experiences and long-term outcomes. For example, in 2004, when colleges began exploring coaching for persistence, Brandman enlisted the help of InsideTrack to deliver one-on-one coaching, tailored to the needs of military students.

The two organizations worked closely together to learn from the student experience, improving processes along the way and adapting coach selection, training and pedagogy to this important population.

“Military students have unique needs. Whether it’s needing to file a specific form for reimbursement, helping them understand how to maximize their benefits, or continuing to make progress between or during deployments, it’s a population that has its own language and culture so the people supporting them need to know how to connect with them.”
– Sean Nemeth, Brandman’s assistant vice chancellor for advising and retention

InsideTrack assigned military-specific coaches to support Brandman’s military-connected students to deliver individually tailored support, “We’ve had great success from InsideTrack coaches building deep connections with our active-duty and veteran students,” Nemeth said. Some coaches shared a military background with their students while others, like Ron Callahan, relied on active listening and intensive coach training.

Those connections resonated with the entire campus community so much that students from several of Brandman’s military-base campuses lobbied to have Callahan invited to speak at their commencement.

“Being asked to speak at graduation by the very students I had coached was without a doubt one of the biggest honors of my entire career,” Callahan said. “I have learned so much from the military students I’ve coached over the years. As an American, it’s important to me that institutions do right by our service men and women, and Brandman is one of the finest examples I’ve seen.”

Students benefit most from coaching when they also receive a robust suite of student-support services. Brandman makes sure coaches have a wide range of resources from which to choose when they make referrals. “Particularly for students who have served active duty overseas, we see them come back with issues that can impact their learning,” Nemeth said. Brandman emphasizes accessibility To provide military students with a level playing field, Brandman puts a strong emphasis on accessibility.

“Coaching ensures that investments in other student services are not done in vain. It creates a sort of multiplier effect that improves the military student experience in every way.”
– Saskia Knight, Brandman’s executive chancellor for enrollment and student affairs

Insights gathered from coaching military students over many years at Brandman help senior leaders make informed decisions and identify the most effective areas for resource allocation. For example, Nemeth has collaborated with the vice chancellor for accessibility to create an enhanced veterans service center.

After more than a decade of partnering with InsideTrack, Brandman has expanded its capacity to the extent that it can bring coach hiring, training and continuous improvement efforts in-house. At the same time they are expanding new flexible programs: a well-regarded, competency-based education initiative tailored to better meet the needs of military students and a career coaching effort focused on helping military students transition successfully to the civilian workforce.

Similarly, since its partnership with Brandman, InsideTrack has expanded its support for military-connected students to dozens of other private and public institutions across the country.  In addition to coaching tens of thousands of active-duty military students and student veterans, the organization has also partnered with organizations, including NASPA, The American Council on Education and the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University to better understand this critical student population.

“We continue to learn from the important work that Brandman University and our other partners are doing to ensure our nation’s service men and women achieve their academic and career goals. I highly recommend that institutions that share a commitment to being truly military friendly take a close look at the innovative and student-centered best practices Brandman has implemented so successfully.”
– Pete Wheelan, InsideTrack chief executive officer

Contact us to learn more about the partnership between Brandman and InsideTrack or about how InsideTrack supports military-connected students


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