It’s important to make things feel personal.
No matter the size of the institution, more often than not, the ratio of students to faculty and staff is at a point where it is difficult to provide personalized service. Not only are there a multitude of demands put on these professionals, but often students may be intimidated to even approach them. They also might not have the ability to connect whenever these staff members are available.
Bringing on peer leaders for students to connect with for support services can help make college feel less intimidating, while adding personalization to their experience. This way, they’re more likely to make use of these resources, which will ultimately help them feel more welcome in the campus community. That way they know they have folks looking out for them if something is hindering their success.
Let’s dig into the positive student outcomes that come from integrating peer support:
Having students provide more personal peer support creates a unique opportunity for rapport building. No matter how much we might try, students aren’t going to engage with us the same way they would a fellow student. As students at the same institution, they’re going to share more experiences, vernacular, and mutual understanding. Working together and helping each other will allow both students to feel like there are peers who care about them at this institution. Their connection will be built in a genuine way and make a big campus feel a lot more personal.
Another added benefit of bringing on peer student support is that it allows for you to increase the level of diversity on your team. This is valuable in its own right for the representation it gives to other students. It is also important so that any and every student can feel like there is someone who shares life experiences and can appreciate where they’re coming from. You’ll also have a diversity of perspectives on the work your office is doing and how you’re going about it. All of this allows you to design a student experience that’s far more personal and welcoming to students.
Bringing on a diverse peer student support staff to engage students is a smart use of your office’s budget. This strategic investment can be far more adaptable and be more flexible than having a single full time professional try to be multiple places at once. You can give a meaningful work experience to students and increase retention for both the student staff and the students you serve. It’s helping in a nimble way to refit your support structures to better achieve your same outcomes. Even better the overall cost will not only be decreased in general but it will also be easier to control since you can monitor usage and make adjustments on a term by term basis if needed.
College can be a confusing and challenging place at times. Adding a personal touch to the support services students use can help make things a little easier to manage. You can do this a multitude of ways and the outcomes are invaluable. Peer student support is one of the easiest and best ways to reach these outcomes that can work for pretty much any office.
Learn how to make the most of peer support on your campus at joinknack.com/colleges.
Written by Dustin Ramsdell
Dustin helps students succeed everyday in his role as a Student Success Lead at Noodle Partners. He is also a proud geek as well as a higher ed blogger, and podcaster. He loves craft beer, good movies, and deep conversations. Connect with him on Twitter or over at his blog.