Supporting the Whole Student
For many students, college is a peregrination of growth, providing a safe haven to explore the world outside of what they’ve always known, as they discover who they might become. Bay Path University has been at the forefront of that growth for over a century, offering students opportunities that prepare them for career fields that they may have never imagined while also preparing them for life after college.
The opportunity for student support, however, isn’t limited to the classroom and career paths. In spring 2020, colleges and universities everywhere suddenly experienced students needing to be supported through a new kind of growth, as a global pandemic and rapidly erupting social justice issues altered their worlds overnight. Over a year into COVID-19, an era that will define this generation, over sixty-five percent of students surveyed at one hundred and sixteen institutions reported having fair or poor mental health, according to a March 2021 Student Voice survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse.
At Bay Path, the ability to support students inside and outside of the classroom is woven tightly into our mission. The idea of whole student support, or wrap-around support, is an integral piece of the work to which every faculty or staff member is held accountable. For many, it’s what drives them to Bay Path in the first place. It’s what drives many students to Bay Path, too.
For residential and commuter Bay Path students, the campus community is known for its close-knit, familial atmosphere. Small class sizes and engaged faculty members encourage personal connections, and through deliberate and dedicated faculty commitment to their students, those same dynamics have been facilitated into online classrooms, too. Whether online or on ground, undergraduate or graduate, or a traditional or nontraditional student, Bay Path has been able to integrate academic, emotional, and mental support through classroom interactions. Students feel supported and uplifted by not only their professors, but by their peers, mentors, and advisors as well.
Behind the scenes, as online students are interacting with faculty members, technology is working to identify where students are struggling and may need additional support. Going well beyond a simple online classroom, The American Women’s College’s SOUL Knowledge Path customizes instruction to the unique needs of each student by suggesting learning modalities that are a best fit for the student, while Social Online Universal Learning (SOUL’s) analytics and predictive models alert a student’s Educator Coach to reach out to offer specialized and individualized support.
The marriage of technological and personal support doesn’t end there. In 2020, Bay Path introduced Uwill as a mental health partner, pairing Bay Path students with remote teletherapy options that include video, phone, and text sessions. Students are able to narrow down their search for a provider that fits their language, religious, ethnic, gender, and/or sexual orientation preferences, allowing them to tailor their experience directly to their needs. The Sullivan Career and Life Planning Center also moved online, allowing students and alumni from everywhere to access life-long guidance and resources. Internships, networking opportunities, and grad school and career guidance are now available virtually, and fostering connections between undergraduate students, graduate students, and field practitioners is an active area of growth for the University.
In January 2021, Bay Path and its holistic approach to wrap-around virtual support were recognized as one of the ten schools in the nation to receive a Virtual Innovation Award for Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services by Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA).
“Student support services are essential to students’ progress in college,” explains Maura Devlin, associate vice president and dean of undergraduate studies at Bay Path.
“These supports include advising, orientation, emergency aid to help with textbook costs and other essentials, clubs and activities, academic and learning supports, and health and well-being programs.”
No matter where a student is on the educational journey, it’s essential that each student feels supported academically, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and in a way that is individual to the person. As the world continues to change in big and small ways, students must be willing to bend and flex to overcome those challenges. Both online and on ground, Bay Path is here to buttress every bend, to fortify every flex, and to provide support for whatever may come next.