In the next decade, the number of adult learners in the U.S. is projected to grow faster than the number of traditional students, according to the Department of Education and the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. In fact, in 2011, over one-third of the students enrolled in undergraduate programs were over the age of 25.
Many of these non-traditional students enter online degree programs, which offer flexible scheduling for students balancing school, full-time jobs and family commitments.
To demonstrate their commitment to the success of these learners, leading online education programs like those at Drexel University Online, Penn State World Campus and Brandman University are incorporating individualized, executive-style coaching services to help students stay focused, develop study and writing skills and feel supported as they complete their degrees or certificate programs.
Drexel University is one of the top 50 private, non-profit, national research universities in the U.S. and a pioneer in the e-Learning industry. It established Drexel University Online in 2002, which has become renowned for innovative, Internet-based distance education programs for working professionals.
To offer students the support they need to successfully complete their degrees in the midst of already busy lives, Drexel Online offers individualized, executive-style coaching to all incoming undergraduates pursuing one of its 15 bachelor’s degrees.
“An online learning environment is an entirely different experience than a classroom environment,” said Drexel Online President Dr. Ken Hartman. “Students can’t hide like in a classroom, and, being remote, they often lack the support system that a college campus can provide.”
Coaches from InsideTrack, a national student coaching organization, conduct regular one-on-one telephone sessions with Drexel Online students, helping them balance the demands of school, work and family life. Coaches also focus on helping students develop the skills and habits they need for long-term success.
“Coaching provides the backbone that online students need to help them build resourceful strategies that will allow them to successfully complete their studies at Drexel,” said Hartman.
Penn State World Campus
Penn State World Campus, part of Penn State Outreach, specializes in adult online education, offering online versions of more than 80 of Penn State University’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs. World Campus began offering coaching services from InsideTrack to students in 2010.
“The goal of coaching is to provide a more tailored learning experience,” said Wayne Smutz, executive director of Penn State World Campus and associate vice president for Academic Outreach. “Providing personalized attention enhances students’ capabilities to be successful.”
Coaches meet regularly with World Campus students to set clear goals, make detailed plans to achieve them and proactively plan for potential obstacles. InsideTrack and World Campus also leverage data and insights gathered during the coaching process to continuously enhance the student experience.
Brandman University, a member of the Chapman University System, offers 52 programs and serves more than 10,000 working adult students online and through 25 campuses across Washington and California. Brandman focuses on providing a challenging and accessible intellectual environment, combining high-quality faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and convenient online classes.
“We don’t give one inch on quality in anything we do. Our coaching program demonstrates to our prospects and students that we are investing in their long-term success,” said Saskia Knight, vice chancellor of Enrollment and Student Affairs at Brandman University.
Brandman has provided one-on-one coaching to its students for nearly a decade. Coaches help students stay engaged and motivated, supporting them in leveraging university resources and maximizing their academic and professional success. They also empower students to break down the barriers that might stand in the way of achieving their life goals, all while providing valuable feedback to university administrators.
Kai Drekmeier, founder and president of InsideTrack, said working with such a diverse group of institutions helps improve the quality of coaching available.
“Our work with leading online programs serves to deepen our understanding of what matters most in ensuring the success of online learners.”
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