By Jillian Mehta
Several success coaches from the Promise Office left the university this semester, leaving some of the students they had overseen confused and feeling helpless.
Each student is assigned a success coach to ensure they have the right tools, guidance and support to achieve their academic goals. They are the student’s point of contact for everything from class registration, career guidance and financial aid up until they graduate. But, if a student’s coach changes regularly, some students say it becomes more of a nuisance than it’s worth.
The Promise Office has a large and dynamic team of twenty professional staff members to support students, according to Ashley John, senior director of student engagement. “This semester, one success coach and one resident director left the university and we are actively searching for new candidates to fill these positions,” she said.
Some students reported that their coach has changed several times over the years. Upperclassmen have had to reintroduce themselves, their academic history and future goals to their new promise coaches with each switch.
Jacqueline Duncan, a junior business administration major is now on her second promise coach.
“Now having been without a success coach for almost a month, while I’m working on my schedule [for] next semester and study abroad plans, I have been meeting with various people in the promise office,” she said.
While staff departures can be expected within any organization, John said the Promise office ensures that every student has a success coach in the interim. “While a coach may change, our commitment to students and being there to support them does not,” John said.
The revolving door at the Promise Office has caused some incidents of students being misled about courses and majors which are no longer offered but are needed to graduate.
Students lament that a lack of experience and knowledge among those positioned to guide them in the right direction has created unnecessary pressures and distractions during a time that should be designated to school work and finals.
“I have a new success coach but I have no way to set up an appointment with him since success coaches notoriously never answer emails, and he’s not on the website for making appointments online,” she said.
“I’m switching my major and have a bunch of questions so I’m in a big, big situation here because I have to submit my nursing application in the spring and I have questions about it and no one to ask.”
New Promise staff members go through an extensive training program to teach about the university and their students, according to John. “We make sure our staff are qualified, trained, and ready to hit the ground,” she said. Yet some students turn to department chairs and directors for advice on scheduling, majors and credit evaluations.
Graduation plans have also been affected for some. “If it wasn’t for my professors and department heads waiving classes and helping me with course substitutions, I don’t think I would have graduated on time,” said Ashley Herkie, a senior digital design major.
Charles Conover, director of the digital design department, has taken the time to sit down with students in his department to ensure they’re on the right track to graduation, according to Herkie.
Being that Herkie is a transfer student, she has mainly dealt with enrollment services rather than the Promise Office, but her experience there has followed a similar pattern to that of the Promise Office. “I’m constantly being moved around by advisors and constantly have them tell me different things about what I need to graduate,” she said.
Robyn Beeber, a senior childhood special education major, has had three promise coaches so far. “My old promise coach messed up some of my academic requirements causing me to take unnecessary classes that didn’t count toward my requirements,” she said. This added stress to her senior year and has made her academic planning more complicated.
While the Promise Office may seem like they’re experiencing some obstacles, they have added two part-time resident directors who are already forming connections with students in their residence halls, according to John.
Also adding support to the Promise Office is Deirdre Moore, the former women’s basketball coach. John said she has joined Promise as director of HOPE Scholars and provides a new and added level of support to LIU students.
When searching the campus website, liu.edu/post, for a list of Promise coaches, the page could not be found. Students can visit the Promise Office on the third floor of Hillwood Commons, or email their coach to schedule appointments.