Building connections at the First-Year Success Center

Freshman students receive extra help at the First-Year Success Center

In the midst of dorm decorating, class schedules and welcome activities, it’s easy for a freshman’s to-do list to quickly spiral out of control. Arizona State University recognizes the struggles first-year students face when transitioning to college life and, in turn, founded the First-Year Success Center in 2012 to help new Sun Devils make personal connections on campus. The center connects upperclassmen coaches with new students to find where they best fit into the University.

Jenna Dubinoff, a current coach at the First-Year Success Center and senior educational studies major at ASU, understands that the transition between high school and college can be difficult.

“I truly enjoy getting to know all my students, but one of my students was struggling with her major choice and was concerned about her future,” Dubinoff says. “I could relate because I went through something similar and was able to share my experiences and the steps I took. This interaction built trust and helped assure her future decisions.”

Building connections among the student population is one of the core principles of the First-Year Success Center, as each coach strives to relate to students on a personal level. Last semester, the center took more than 8,000 ASU students under its wing with coaches communicating through in-person appointments, Google Hangouts, email and phone calls.

Darby Vance, a recent ASU graduate and coach at the First-Year Success Center last year, dedicated his time to helping students with a variety of needs.

“I love getting to know my students through one-on-one appointments and helping them succeed through their semester,” Vance says. “I see so many students, some like to come in and chat to check in on things, where others come in who are going through a lot of things and really are looking for guidance and a listening ear. It feels good to know I can help relieve any stress the student may be feeling.”

Coaches at the First-Year Success Center go through a rigorous application process. Applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA and a passion for helping others. The unique student coaching interactions have made the First-Year Success Center a rewarding experience for Vance.

“The most rewarding part of being a coach is knowing I have made an impact on my students and that I have helped them,” Vance says.

Elizabeth Rosenkrantz, First-Year Success Center assistant director, believes that ASU’s coaching program helps boost student confidence and decreases stress.

“Some of the top takeaways students get from meeting with their coach are personalized information on beneficial resources at ASU, how to achieve goals, skills to decrease stress and a boost in confidence,” Rosenkrantz says.

While ASU might be the largest secondary education institution in the country, the staggering attendance numbers don’t translate to a disconnect between the students and the University. The meaningful experiences both coaches and underclassmen students gain through the First-Year Success Center increases student camaraderie among peers and helps ensure students prosper within the University.

“Some of the biggest benefits are knowing you are not alone and you have someone here that will cheer you along, support you and help you achieve your goals,” Rosenkrantz says. “The First-Year Success Center offers holistic support on various topics from a fellow peer who has gone through what you are experiencing now.”


Reach the reporter at Madison.Staten@asu.edu or follow @madisonmstaten on Twitter.

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