My name is Allison Wolf, and I am an Online Student Success Adviser in the Office of Continuing and Distance Education at Concordia.
Q: Explain what you do you in your role as an Online Student Success Adviser.
A: As an Online Student Success Adviser my role is to be a go to person for students in several of our online programs. If they have questions about registering for classes, changing a course registration, needing to access something in a course that they can’t access right now or any of those sorts of things, just being a go to person for them so that they have somebody in the university that they can ask their questions of.
Q:What are some of the most common questions you get from students?
A: The most common questions we get are related to registering for classes; either students wondering what classes they should be taking next, or their trying to
register for class but they’re running into an issue… either the class is closed or there’s a registration block for some reason. 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: Because the nature of the classes they’re taking are online, most of the communication that we get from students is electronic, either through e-mail or phone. We do occasionally have the opportunity to meet somebody face to face, and we love that personal interaction as well.
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 sort of 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. In addition to that black-and-white support, I love being able to get to know them better personally so that if there are ways that I can pray for them… whether there’s a new baby joining their family, or their experiencing a relocation, a move. When I can have those types of conversations with students and get to know a different side of them, it really helps me feel like I can support them better because I know what they’re going through.
Q: How do you see the mission of Concordia being fulfilled?
A: Well the mission of Concordia is: “Helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the World.” Helping students reach their educational goals so that they can go out from this place and use those God-given talents that they’ve developed in their courses, that’s what we’re all about. How can we help them to be successful in those courses so that they can take the knowledge and move on from this place?
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, there’s somebody that you can always go to to ask questions. You’re not in this alone”. I think when you’re taking classes online and doing it from the comfort of your home, it’s very easy to feel like there’s nobody there to support you. But the whole purpose of our role as Online Student Success Advisors is to be that person that you can go to you can ask questions, to know that you’re either going to get an answer right from us or we’re going to direct you to somebody in the university that can answer your question. Just because you’re online working on your courses from your home, it doesn’t mean that you’re all alone in this, we’re here to support you. We want you to be as successful in your courses as possible, so we’ll do whatever we can to help you 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, they’re 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 all those different components that they’re dealing with, so that we can help support them as a whole and not just in their education is something that’s we try to get to know.
Q: What gets you excited about your role as an Online Student Success Advisor?
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.