WKU’s Office of Enrollment Management has a new $5,000 grant to use to help students graduate.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education gave out the grant as a part of their “Stronger by Degrees” initiative, which seeks to help “near completers.”

“Near completers” are students who have accumulated 75 or more of the credit hours needed for graduation, according to the grant proposal request.

Joelle Davis-Carter, vice president of Enrollment Management, wrote the request to create a program that has direct contact with these students through peer-to-peercoaching.

“Essentially, we have about 616 undergraduate students (with) more than 75 percent of their credit hours and have filed for graduation that haven’t declared a major,” Carter said. “This program should allow students to benefit from just extended support from student success coaches.”

Carter said the proposed Student Success Coaching program allows student leaders who are doing well academically and are on track to graduation to help advise a “cluster” of five to seven of the near completers as the graduation date draws nearer.

“Time is of the essence with this program,” Carter said.

Carter said the $5,000 grant, along with an additional $5,000 the university is required to match by CPE standards, will allow for 20 to 25 student success coaches to be paid at $400 per year.

She said those who are accepted as success coaches will undergo rigorous training from various offices, such as the Academic Advising and Retention Center.

As for the near completers, Carter said she can’t require anyone to sign up, but she said she’ll continue encouraging students to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

Brian Meredith, associate president of Enrollment Management, said he’s encouraged by Carter’s grant, particularly because Carter has been working for the university less than six months.

“Enrollment Management sees this grant as the beginning of our pursuit of external funding to support our retention goals,” Meredith said. “In the coming months, we will work to assess our current programs and look for creative, innovative new practices to support our goal of success for every student we admit to WKU.”

Carter said she will use whatever data she gets from the first year of this program as a “barometer” in further developing the program. Carter said she wants the program to teach students to “hone and own” their academic and career goals.

"My hope is that this program will not only guide and coach students to graduation in a meaningful way, but they’re also walking across the stage with degree in hand and a good idea of where they’re going next,” she said.