February 8, 2023

New success coaches to help Purdue Global students with life challenges

Initiative to provide more intensive support to adult learners

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Courtney Brinkman recently took a call from a Purdue Global student who needed food for her family. From her home office in Attica, Indiana, Brinkman helped the student find local resources, including a food bank.

The call Brinkman took is part of her rigorous training as a member of Purdue Global’s first cohort of six student success coaches. The four-week training covers Purdue Global policies, as well as how to address a variety of situations that students could reach out about when seeking assistance.

Success coaching – an emerging role in higher education that focuses on a relational approach to student success – is part of Purdue Global’s overall goal of providing more intensive support to the school’s adult learner population.

“When our students struggle, it is not because they are unable to do the work academically; it is because their complex lives are getting in the way,” says Karen McGregor, executive director of Purdue Global’s student success coaching program. “We believe that the addition of success coaching will enable us to walk alongside our students and help them to navigate the ups and downs of life and thrive at Purdue Global.”

The goal is to expand the program and have 24 success coaches by July 1. As success coaches are added, McGregor says it is important to know what they can and cannot address. They aren’t tutors or academic advisors.

“They will sit at the intersection of a lot of existing services and help make sure students are accessing experts at the right time,” McGregor says. “In addition, they will be building a skill set that is outside the services currently offered to help students stabilize their lives in times of personal and academic crisis. This might mean helping a student access tutoring or other academic services offered by Purdue Global, mental health support, or a local food bank.”

McGregor, who has worked with adult learners in the past, says having a strong support network is important for student success.

“Some students have a strong support system, while others might not,” McGregor says. “Success coaching allows us to truly support students who otherwise might have to go it alone.”

The Purdue Global success coaching program is based on work done with similar student coaching programs at Purdue University. At its main flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue utilizes peer success coaches, student coaches and online success coaches.

The first six success coaches will also make a behind-the-scenes difference by designing processes, tools and practices, as well as helping identify the barriers students face.  

Ashley Flood, manager of the student success coaches, says it was important to know about the challenges Purdue Global students face and how the success coaches could provide support.

Coaches have a variety of experiences, including academic advising, nonprofit organizations, success coaching, residential life, recruitment and psychology.

“I would say all of them are absolutely skilled in working with students and bringing compassion and understanding to the conversations,” Flood says. “Their experience also makes me confident in their abilities to think of creative solutions to challenges that may arise.” 

Writer/Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell), oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: Karen McGregor, karen.mcgregor@purdueglobal.edu

Ashley Flood, Ashley.flood@purdueglobal.edu

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