In 2012, the K-12 Teachers Alliance and Concordia University Saint Paul decided to expand KTA’s role in CSP’s off-campus masters programs by piloting a comprehensive retention and student services program.
Under the new model, KTA provides a dedicated Student Service Representative to all CSP off-campus and online graduate students to help guide them through the program and ensure that they are satisfied with their cohort experience. Our Student Services Representatives work with students from the first night of class all the way through graduation to help make sure that things run smoothly.
The dedicated Student Service Representative for CSP’s programs is Margie Stanfield, a cornerstone of the new department. Margie has a passion for student service and has been working with graduate students for over 6 years. Contact with students is far and away Margie’s favorite part of her work at KTA.
“It’s so rewarding to know that you’ve helped someone achieve such a huge goal that they’ve set for themselves” Margie shared. “None of us do it for the ‘thank yous’ or the ‘kudos,’ but when you get an email from a student that says ‘I couldn’t have made it through the program without you,’ it makes you feel good.”
“One of the coolest things I’ve done as a part of the Student Service Department is travel to graduation to meet some of the students I’d been working with. It was so great to see them walk across the stage. We were even able to get some of their stories on video, which will hopefully help other students who may be considering a program like this.”
As the Student Service Representative for Concordia Saint Paul, Margie has helped facilitate registration, answer student questions, and acts as a concierge to the various departments and services available to CSP students across the university. She recently developed and began to deliver individualized online orientation sessions to make sure that students have their computers set up properly for their online program.
The students appreciate Margie’s help, as it makes them more comfortable with the course room technology. And the feedback from CSP faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. Instead of wasting most of the first class session checking students’ internet connections and trying to troubleshoot technology problems, faculty and students are able to hit the ground running from day one.
“I’m not an academic advisor,” Margie clarifies, “But by helping to field the simple questions, I can help the program directors and academic advisors focus on the questions that only they can answer. Often, I’ll hear from a student who is just having a hard time. Not academically, or with the coursework, but just with the combination of work, school, and their family responsibilities. Sometimes, I think those students just need a friendly face, to encourage them and tell them it will be okay. That’s what we do in Student Services.”
The initial pilot program has expanded to most of KTA’s partner institutions, and is now a service included with every new partnership agreement. Like at Concordia Saint Paul, the reception has been positive.
Joe Mroz, KTA’s Executive VP for University Relations, reflects on the development of the Student Services Department:
“We saw that this was a place where we could be of service to not just our partner institutions but to the K-12 educators that we collectively serve. Anything we can do to make their experience better is a worthwhile endeavor. I’m proud that we’ve been able to grow and expand this department over the years and hope we can continue to do so.”