Winona State University’s new Success Coach Program, formed in partnership with the offices of Inclusion and Diversity and Student Life and Development, focuses on the success of traditionally underserved students, first-generation students, and those specifically from historically marginalized communities.
Research has found that mentoring is crucial to success for students of color. WSU students in the Success Coach Program are paired with a faculty/staff mentor to create integration and interaction between the students and members of the institution. Mentors assist students in acclimating to the campus community, identifying resources that aid student success and degree completion, navigating university systems and processes, and establishing healthy, productive social structures throughout their academic careers.
The program is aimed at improving retention and graduation within underserved groups of students. The current one-year retention rate of African American, Latino American, Asian American and Native American Students at WSU is at 68 percent, with the four-year graduation rate at approximately 29 percent. Traditionally underserved students at WSU are 10 times more likely to drop out after the first year and are 15 percent more likely not to graduate within four years compared to the university’s Caucasian students.
Students who participated WSU’s Success Coach program last year had an 85 percent retention rate from Spring 2016 to Fall 2016, and 83 percent of the students who met with their coaches were in good academic standing at the end of the spring semester.