A program within the Student Academic Resource Center is offering students guidance to success with the help of student academic coaches.
SARC’s newest program, the Academic Coaching and Engagement program was piloted in the fall of 2014 by Mark Gumble, assistant vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Services.
“The program is aimed to provide at-risk students an opportunity to enhance time management, organizational and study skills,”said Brandy Espinose, SARC coordinator of academic support services. “The end goal was and still is to help students successfully balance the demands of a university curriculum with an engaging social experience while attending UCF.”
The program’s target audience is first time in college students who have been placed on academic probation after completing their first semester. The main goal of ACE is to guide those students to achieve a term GPA of 2.0 or higher so that they are able to enroll in the following term.
The ACE program works closely with the office of First Year Advising and Exploration to support these students in a joint effort to achieve this goal.
Academic coaches within the program are students who have been at UCF for at least one academic school year and have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Coaches go through extensive training that includes a 2-day comprehensive workshop, where they participate and learn about managing difficult student situations and covers topics such as FERPA and Title XI training.
“I had really struggled academically my freshman year of college,” said Tyler McGregor, junior writing and rhetoric major. “I was discouraged and disappointed in myself that year, but after that experience I learned a lot about myself. Because of this I became an Academic Coach.”
The academic coaches help the program participants develop the necessary academic skills to ensure satisfactory academic progress throughout their time at UCF. Students are encouraged to meet with their assigned academic coach regularly throughout the semester.
Students are encouraged to meet with their academic coaches about once per month or four times per semester. However, the frequency in which they meet may be determined on a case by case basis.
The SARC headquarters is located in the Howard Phillips Hall building but for the remainder of the fall semester students will meet their coaches in an assigned private study room in the Library. The ACE program hopes to expand the program in the spring to serve mores students and expand their reach across campus.
“During the sessions, their Academic Coach will ask open-ended questions to learn about the student and help them devise goals with action plans as well as develop strategies for success that are most relevant to their life and schoolwork,” Espinosa said.
Sessions with a coach typically begin with an assessment of the individual student’s needs and interests and then tailors those needs by utilizing study skills handouts and, worksheets provided by the SARC to help with time management and demonstrating how to apply these tools in the student’s everyday life.
“My goal is to provide them with information about the best resources at UCF in order for them to achieve success,” said Kristina Guzman, sophomore health science major. “Also, I want them to feel comfortable talking to me about any academic situations they find themselves in.”
For those who are actively engaged within the Academic Coaching and Engagement Program, there are opportunities to apply for ACE scholarships, a chance to obtain textbook vouchers as well as tuition scholarships.
Students can learn more about the ACE program by visiting their website.
“As humans we are entitled to make mistakes,” said Timothy Hill, sophomore public administration major. “The SARC staff is always readily able to understand challenges and work with you to devise a conclusion.”
Originally published Nov. 13, 2016.