My name is Allison Wolf, and I am the Lead Student Success Advisor for Concordia University’s Extended Campus (encompassing online and our nine center locations).
Q: Explain what you do you in your role as the Lead Online Student Success Advisor.
A: Specifically, I am the Online Student Success Advisor (OSSA) for Concordia Ann Arbor’s online Graduate Education programs. As an OSSA, my role is to be a go-to person for students. If they have questions about registering for classes, changing a course registration, verifying if their balance has been cleared, and more, they can reach out to me. Being at a distance from campus can make students feel like they are all alone, but my hope is to make students feel like I’m always there for them. They can come to me about anything and I’ll get them the answers they need.
In my larger role as Lead Student Success Advisor, I head up our team of 14 online and center Student Success Advisors. We want every student, no matter if they take classes online or in the classroom, to feel like they have a support network. We are here to listen, advise, champion, encourage, and care for each student who comes our way.
Q: What are some of the most common questions you get from students?
A: The most common questions are related to registering for classes; either students wondering what classes they should be taking next, or they’re trying to register but they’re running into an issue. We can help troubleshoot those types of issues, and figure out what’s going on that may be preventing students from getting into the courses that they need.
Q: How do students get in contact with you?
A: I get emails all day long from quite a few students. Sometimes I’ll have multiple conversations with one particular student over the course of a shorter time frame as they’re trying to get some kind of issue resolved, but a lot of times it’s just a quick email in response to a question. The relationship develops not because of a single email, but because of being that constant support network for students throughout their program.
Q: Can you talk about the 1:1 relationship that is developed through those communications? Are you talking to the same person each time or not?
A: I get emails all day long from quite a few students, sometimes l’ll have multiple conversations with one particular student over the course of a shorter time frame as they’re trying to get some kind of issue resolved, but a lot of times it’s just a quick email out to a large number of students if I’m confirming the registration for courses or something like that. We don’t get the personal connection with students all the time because of the long-distance nature of our conversations, but wherever possible, I love to find out what’s going on with their families or in their lives. It’s an opportunity to get to know a different side of them than just the education side, and that’s a way to make connections. It gives us opportunities to pray for students when we know what’s going on with them.
Q: How is faith integrated into what you do as an OSSA?
A: As a go-to person for students, my whole role is support. I love being able to be there to support my students, to help them get the answers that they need. I also love getting to know them personally so that if there are ways that I can pray for them… whether there’s a new baby joining their family, or they’re moving, having health concerns…I can support them in that way, too.
Q: How do you see the mission of Concordia being fulfilled?
A: The mission of Concordia is: “Helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the World.” When we can help students reach their educational goals so that they can go out from this place and use those God-given talents developed in their courses, that’s when our mission is fulfilled.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective online student?
A: One piece of advice that I would give to students is: “Don’t panic. We are here to support you; you’re not in this alone”. I think when you’re taking classes online, and especially doing it from a significant distance away from the main campus, it’s very easy to feel like nobody is there. Even small challenges during a class can feel like mountains. So we want students to know there is someone to accompany them along the way. When you have a partner through a difficult task, it often seems easier to manage. We want students to be as successful in their courses as possible, so we’ll do whatever we can to help them reach that success.
Q: What are Concordia Students like?
A: What I have found is that Concordia students are moms and dads, husbands and wives, they’re employees, and caregivers for their parents or their grandparents. There are so many different roles that each student has, and “student” is just one of them. Trying to understand the different vocations our students have, so we can help support them as a whole and not just in their education, is something we strive to do.
Q: What gets you excited about your role?
A: I just love helping people. To know that I can lighten somebody’s stress or burden a little bit by answering a simple question, that really excites me. A question to a student may seem like this big wall to overcome, but if I can give them an answer to it, suddenly the wall is knocked down, and they can move on and continue to be successful.
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