First generation of Peer Academic Success Coaches preps for spring ‘17

The Center for Student Success is debuting a new resource for SUNY New Paltz students this semester: a one-on-one Peer Academic Success Coaching (PASC) program.

The PASC model differs from traditional peer tutoring and mentoring structures in that it focuses more on broadly applicable skills, such as time management, setting goals and creating action plans for meeting those goals, than on content area instruction.

Peer coaching is designed to support students with diverse learning styles, through strength-based techniques that emphasize listening and positive reinforcement.

On the eve of the spring 2017 semester, 15 undergraduate students and one graduate student underwent a two-day training program as the first class of Peer Academic Success Coaches at New Paltz.

The 16 students were chosen from a pool of more than 60 candidates nominated by staff and faculty. They are a mix of four-year and transfer students, campus residents and commuters, and include previous Orientation Leaders and residence hall governors.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the program as it launches,” said Kimberly Escandon ’18 (Management, Marketing). “I’ve always liked helping people, so as a peer coach my goal is just to relate to other students and encourage them in the right direction.”

PASC training was held on Jan. 19 and 20, and coordinated by Center for Student Success Director Dante Cantú and Megan Morrissey, the Coordinator of Academic Coaching at Mount Saint Mary College.

Workshops covered a range of techniques coaches can use to help fellow students adopt behaviors and strategies that correlate with academic success. Guest speakers, including Career Resource Center Director Mark McFadden, Student Counseling Center Director Gweneth Lloyd and Disability Resource Center Director Jean Vizvary, dropped in to share best practices from their areas of expertise.

Throughout the two-day training, it was clear that the success of the PASC program will ultimately be driven by the coaches’ commitment to helping their peers.

“I think back about how I ended up at New Paltz, and how many people helped me get here,” said Fousseni Baba ’17 (International Economics, International Business). “I was given an opportunity to better my life, and I feel that being a peer coach is a way to pass that opportunity on to others.”

Students will be able to register to meet with a Peer Academic Success Coach beginning in early February.

To learn more about the program and to register, please visit the Center for Student Success online.