Aces: They are Here to Help

The Assistant Coaches for Excellence and Success (ACES)  made some major changes to their organization in order to better accommodate the T-bird nation.

The ACES were established in Fall 2015 to help reverse the five year retention slide SUU experienced. At that time, ACES were assigned Academic Advisors, but they soon branched out into new programs.

In 2016, the ACES were assigned incoming students based on their major. The group soon found the method to be ineffective. Seeing how one ACES mentor could have around 100 students in their cohorts, while another ACES member could only have 70.

In order to make the cohorts more efficient, ACES are now randomly assigned incoming students. In past years, there were roughly 14 ACES, but this year there are 20 working together to enhance the college experience of not only the incoming freshmen, but all SUU students. They do this through one-on-one peer mentoring.

Ryan Bailey, who originally started out as an ACES member back in Spring of 2016, is now the Coordinator of Completion and Student Success.

“The ACES are assigned to incoming students, but their main purpose is to be an advocate and resource to all students,” Bailey said. “We want to be a one stop shop for all students.”

Another change made to the ACES organization is how and when they started to communicate with the incoming students. This year, incoming freshmen were assigned to their cohort as early as April and May. Once a student was assigned to a cohort, outreach began. ACES communicate with their students throughout the summer via text, email and phone call.

According to the ACES, the outreach program has proven to be successful. Over 700 incoming students, the equivalent to about a third of the incoming population, came in for their personalized visits. Once the school year began, the ACES made it a priority to meet with all of the students in their cohort. Last year the ACES had a total of 1,053 one-on-one visits. As of Sept. 29, they have had 808 one-on-one visits and plan to visit with all the freshmen by Thanksgiving Break.

Retention has also increased with the help of the ACES organization. Last year’s retention rate was 69.3 percent. Bailey said they hope to continue to increase the retention rate and make sure students come back for their sophomore year.

The ACES organization continues to strive to connect with more students.

“We preach a culture of putting the student first and helping a student not out of obligation, but out of the drive to actually help and make a difference,” Bailey said. “And that’s what gives us success at the end of the day.“

Whether it is your first semester at SUU or your last, if you have a question, head over to “The Nest” found in the Sharwan Smith Student Center (ST 175). If you just need a friend or help finding a class, the ACES are here to help.

Story for Print By
Cassidy Harmon