The impact of a near-peer coach

To many college students, a missing course prerequisite might be a mere inconvenience. But to a low-income student, a minor mix-up can quickly become a major barrier to persistence, retention and even graduation.

This was the case for Jesse, a first-year student at Augsburg University.

When Jesse received her class schedule, she realized she had not been placed in the correct classes to progress on the pre-medicine track. The mistake put her off-track to graduate and threatened to cost thousands of extra dollars in tuition, fees and missed income.

The news caused her to question her enrollment decision. “I just felt really lost,” Jesse said. “I wanted to transfer. I started calling other colleges, but it was too late.”

Fortunately, Jesse’s College Possible Catalyze College Coach Davi was ready to help.

The College Possible Catalyze Partnership places near-peer coaches on campus to accompany low-income and first-generation students through their college experience. Coaches assist students in navigating campus systems, accessing resources and reinforcing that students belong on campus.

As a recent alumna of the university, Davi knew the school’s resources, policies and faculty members. She also knew that transferring was not Jesse’s only solution. “Like many students, Jesse simply wasn’t aware of her options,” she said.

Davi leveraged her network within the university and was able to help Jesse schedule an appointment with the head of the biology department. He was able to enroll Jesse in the correct classes for her fall term and put her back on-track to graduate on time.

With her training as a College Possible Catalyze College Coach, Davi was able to turn a stressful situation into a learning experience.

“Throughout this process, I was able to tell Jesse about many of the resources on campus,” Davi said. “We talked about the importance of making meaningful connections during college, and not just with other students. Now she also has a connection with a professor who she can turn to for advising on classes, research, internships and career possibilities.”

Jesse now feels more equipped to access the resources on her campus—a skill that will continue to help her succeed in college and beyond. “I learned that you should always go to someone when you don’t know what to do in new situations,” she said.


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