In traditional on-campus or online programs, an academic adviser guides you through scheduling classes and any issues that hinder your progress. But you might have the opportunity to talk with your adviser only once or twice a semester.
That’s not the case in UW Flexible Option. Online, competency-based education programs require you to be an independent and self-motivated student; however, help is always available in the form of an Academic Success Coach—a new, unique approach to student advising.
Your coach is much more than an adviser, filling the roles of mentor, resource specialist, problem-solver, beacon of positivity, and all-around student advocate. From your very first day in the program, your coach is the point-of-contact when you need information or assistance with anything related to your academic experience.
First contact after you enroll in competency-based education
Your coach is much more than an adviser, filling the roles of mentor, resource specialist, problem-solver, beacon of positivity, and all-around student advocate.
After enrolling in a Flexible Option degree or certificate program, you are paired with a coach from that program. Then:
- Your coach will schedule an initial phone call to talk with you about the competency-based education model, and your education background, and future goals.
- During a second phone conversation, your coach will advise you on academic planning: how many competency sets you should strive to complete during a three-month subscription period, which competency sets to complete first, and how to get started in Desire2Learn, the online learning management system. Your coach may advise you to take it slow during your first subscription period while you become comfortable with the new learning format.
- After these initial conversations, your coach will contact you weekly or every few weeks to ask how you are progressing and if you need assistance.
Flex coaches operate on an as-needed basis. Flexible Option puts you in control of your own learning, so you decide how often you correspond with a coach. If you are a self-directed learner and don’t need as much help, that’s okay.
Get a UW Flexible Option Degree Guide
Download an introductory guide (PDF) to the self-paced, competency-based UW Flexible Option programs, including details about costs, admission requirements, and more.
Who are the Academic Success Coaches?
The UW Flexible Option Academic Success Coaches spend their days communicating with students over phone and email, answering questions, and helping students through tough situations.
The first thing you notice about the coaches is that they love their jobs. They are passionate about education and enjoy assisting students. If you need help, they want you to call them and will do their best to respond quickly. They are completely invested in your success—something that surprises many Flex students and prompts an occasional message saying, “thank you for caring.”
Your coach understands your concerns, motivations, challenges, and sense of pride when it comes to earning a degree. Many of the Academic Success Coaches were parents, full-time employees, and otherwise busy adults when they earned a degree.
Who do the Academic Success Coaches help?
In a nutshell, people like you.
Flex students are juggling jobs, family, community involvement, and a myriad of other commitments. Here are a few examples of students who have been supported by coaches:
There is no cookie-cutter Flex student. Your coach realizes that your needs may be different from anyone else’s.
- RNs with shifting work hours
- A musician who plays shows around the Midwest
- An ambitious student who earned 33 credits in three months
- A computed tomography technologist who had been out of school for nearly 20 years
- The principal engineer for defense-technology innovator Raytheon
On the whole, coaches say their students are conscientious adults who have strong study and time management skills. The most successful students are naturally curious and proactive critical thinkers.
But there is no cookie-cutter Flex student. Your coach realizes that your needs may be different from anyone else’s, and that’s why they provide valuable moral support in addition to academic.
For most students, connecting with a coach is critical, since help is not just a few blocks away like in an on-campus program. Many Flex students say that having a go-to person, their trusted coach, is simply more manageable.
See Academic Success Coach Kristin Hoffmann in action. She helps Flexible Option students like this busy nurse every day.
How do they help you?
Your coach may not be an expert in your chosen field (information systems, for example), but they are fluent in the online, competency-based education format and the requirements of your Flex degree or certificate program.
One coach described herself as being at the midpoint of a long, red string—one end is tied to you, the student, and the other end is split and tethered to faculty, IT services, and instructional design.
“Even though we won’t shake hands and meet in person, we truly care about your goals. Helping students stay on track and refresh their confidence is a joy!”
–A Flexible Option Academic Success Coach
Your coach may help you with a number of academic hurdles, including:
- Creating a learning plan and timeline that fits your goals
- Understanding tuition and remembering to pay on time
- Using the learning management system
- Building confidence and maintaining a positive outlook
- Finding the learning resources you need to succeed
- Helping you to prepare for assessments
- Sending questions about course content to instructors
- Appealing a grade
- Taking time off from the program, if you need it
- Registration issues and understanding deadlines
- Managing education, work, and other priorities
- Connecting with home campus resources and departments, such as the registrar’s office, veterans’ services, or tutoring
Your coach truly cares about you
The relationship between you and your Academic Success Coach is a special one, because he or she is the person you’ll contact to share good news or bad, troubles and successes.
As one coach put it, “Even though we won’t shake hands and meet in person, we truly care about your goals. Helping students stay on track and refresh their confidence is a joy!”
To find out more about the UW Flexible Option and whether this competency-based education option is a good fit for you, talk with a friendly enrollment adviser today. Call 1-877-895-3276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.