Right help to the right student at the right time
In the fall 2022 semester, Western will launch the most ambitious and comprehensive student success program in its history. Made possible by the Empowering Futures Gift, WMU Student Success Navigators will provide an unprecedented level of support for students. The program will provide the right help to the right student at the right time by removing three barriers:
- It will make it easier for students to find the help they need by eliminating the paradox of student support—there is so much available that knowing where to go and where to begin is overwhelming.
- It will normalize help-seeking. Too many college students believe their need for help is exceptional rather than normal.
- A dedicated professional navigator will accompany the student through their undergraduate years at Western, meeting their needs and enhancing a sense of belonging and community.
New student support resources
The program will launch with 11 new professional navigators and 10 new student employees who will provide proactive, individualized support that includes and extends beyond academic support across eight dimensions of student well-being. While available to all students, the Student Success Navigators will initially focus on those who are first-generation college students, Pell-eligible and historically marginalized communities.
How it works
Student Success Navigators will start supportive relationships with students even before they arrive on campus, reaching out over the summer to introduce themselves. When students arrive on campus, the navigators will proactively reach out to make a personal connection.
Over the course of the academic year, students will receive proactive outreach from the University in the form of phone calls, pulse surveys and coordinated student support that continuously assesses their progress and well-being.
As students’ needs are identified, their Student Success Navigator will guide them to appropriate support—but it doesn’t end there. An essential element of the Navigator model is to close the loop. When a case is opened, the Student Success Navigator will ensure it is closed. Did the Bronco Study Zone help? Did the student connect with a counselor? Did the fitness class help manage stress?
The Student Success Navigators are just the beginning, supported by a cadre of specialists. As needs surface, students can be referred to navigators with specialized knowledge and skills in in three critical areas of focus:
Multicultural Specialists will provide direct support to students from historically marginalized communities, including asset-based coaching and connections to relevant student groups, support and programming that create belonging.
Student Affairs Specialists will provide well-being and mental health resources as well as engagement with campus groups and programming to encourage thriving.
A Financial Aid Specialist will provide holistic support in financial well-being and literacy and help students navigate financial aid and billing.
With this network of support, the University will envelop each student in the program with an individualized student support team that is tailored to their unique needs. Powered by the Salesforce Student Success Hub, each member of the student’s team will be armed with a 360 degree view of the student’s needs and progress. The Student Success Hub will allow individual team members to have the information needed while also protecting confidential protected information, such as medical and mental health records.
The model also provides tiered support. Some students may simply need a referral or to know someone knows their name. Others may want or need a higher level of support. The Navigator model is designed to right-size the support for each student along three tiers of support:
Tier 1 support includes referral to services, general programming and a dedicated Student Success Navigator. In addition, specialists will provide services to students to support all eight dimensions of well-being and Multicultural Specialists will provide support on dimensions of identity, culture and sense of belonging.
Tier 2 support will provide asset-based coaching where students will create individualized plans that help them get the most out of their WMU experience. Students will receive asset-based coaching based on CliftonStrengths. The plan will be adapted as the student experience evolves. Multicultural Specialists will provide specialized, asset-based coaching for students from historically marginalized communities.
Tier 3 support offers high-touch, high-impact interventions reserved for the students who indicate a need for consistent and proactive case management. This level of support will be provided by Student Support Specialists and subject matter experts in student affairs.
An asset-based approach
The WMU Navigator model is based on new thinking in higher education. It is an asset-based approach that seeks to surface, emphasize and embolden students’ strengths and remove barriers to their success. The approach stands in contrast to historical perspectives that envision students who struggle as somehow deficient or in need of “fixing.” An asset-based approach is focused on enabling whole people with their own strengths to grow and thrive by removing barriers and providing resources.