Student Success Coordinators – A Difference-Maker for UC Online Students

Going back to school to get more education and training is a big decision. How will you combine school with your life and work responsibilities? Will it be hard to find time to attend class and study? Will you mesh well with the instructors and other students? Will you get the support you need to complete your degree? Will it all be worth your effort?

We know many of our University of Cincinnati (UC) Online students initially had these questions, which makes total sense. Picking a school and starting (or re-starting) your education is a big deal.

We want students to be comfortable with their decision and find success when they attend (and graduate from) UC Online. Our commitment to students thriving here is embedded into the Student Success Coordinator (SSC) role. Our team of SSCs is dedicated to students enrolled in our fully online programs, and they’re responsible for a relationship that begins almost day one.

Mallery UC Online
Student Success Coordinator, Mallery Schulkers, works with UC Online students to help ensure they have a great experience here. Mallery is part of a large and growing team of SSC’s that support our entire online student population.

Meet Mallery Schulkers, Student Success Coordinator

We recently spoke with SSC Mallery Schulkers to learn more about how she helps UC Online

students every day. We came away from the conversation knowing more about Mallery, her passion for online education and how she embodies the “student success” part of her job title.

We hope you learn something from our conversation with Mallery about the SSC’s student-centered focus and the personalized service she and her teammates provide.

UC Online: How long have you worked for UC Online, and what did you do before you came here?

Mallery: I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary, so a little over a year now. Before that, I worked in education for six years as a regional director of admissions for a small medical training school. I was responsible for eight campuses, traveled a lot and had multiple responsibilities. When I realized how much I enjoyed the student-support part of the job, I joined UC Online to focus all my time and energy on the student experience.

How would you describe your role to someone outside of higher education?

I support students in online programs from the time they confirm their spot in a program, through orientation and up through their graduation. This support includes connecting them to key resources, helping students navigate the online study platform or explaining how to contact their professors in an online environment. My job is to provide tailored support to each person, which might look a little different from student to student. I want to make sure students feel supported here, so they complete their program and enjoy the experience along the way.

How often do you talk with a student after they start their online degree? And how do those interactions take place?

I might talk with a student each week through their entire program. For other students, most of our interactions occur in the first semester when they tend to need more support. Each student knows how to get hold of me, and I’m in regular contact, keeping them up to date on deadlines and reminders and such.

We send out broad emails, but I also talk directly with students. I work with many individuals who work 40 hours a week, and the best way to reach them is by text. Some students prefer talking online, using Zoom or Teams, so we can both see each other. Everything is flexible, and I let the student dictate how we communicate.

Do you support students enrolled in a specific program?

Yes, each of the SSCs have program focus areas. For some, this might mean working with students in six different programs. Other SSCs might only work with one online degree, depending on the student population in that program.

What online degrees are you responsible for?

I work with Early Childhood Education students in the associate and bachelor’s degree programs. I also work with our Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Science/Drug Development students.

That sounds like two opposite ends of the spectrum!

Yes, they’re quite different. I’ve found that graduate-level students often want less support, whereas my associate and bachelor’s programs students are more high-touch.

Do you help students develop a career plan or help them with job placement after they graduate?

Our Career Services team offers that type of support, but I do provide general support to students and to those who want to continue with UC Online, such as moving to a bachelor’s or master’s program after graduation.

What do you like about your job?

Helping students overcome obstacles. This could be managing their time doing online coursework or being self-motivated when they don’t have an instructor right in front of them. When I can help students through their challenges and encourage them to keep studying semester after semester, those are the best parts of my job.

We want students to have a positive experience at UC Online. How does the University get feedback on how the SSCs do their job?

I get feedback from students along the way and near the end of their time with me. I often ask what they wish they knew before going into the program and how I could have supported them more. Then, after students graduate, they can complete a more structured and broad survey covering their entire experience here.

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Learn how companies can attract and retain great talent when partnering with UC Online on an employee education benefit.
UC Online partners with local and regional employers who offer a continuing education benefit to employees. What’s the connection between that partnership program and your role as an SSC?

UC Online is part of the University of Cincinnati, the traditional, brick-and-mortar university. This connection means our team has access to resources and works directly with our college partners, faculty and staff. Our collective goal is to make sure students get the maximum benefit of studying here — and that employers are happy being associated with us. Some other universities task people with both student outreach and teaching, so our commitment to the SSC role and its singular support is what makes us stand out from other online educators.

What do students say about what it’s like to work with an SSC?

In my experience and especially from doing feedback calls, a common theme is students are so grateful to have an SSC’s support throughout their program. Some tell us they enrolled in online courses at other universities and never heard from anyone, and it was up to them to navigate their way around. Here, they have someone to ask about military benefits, tuition and aid or other aspects of being a student. Knowing they have someone in their corner who’s dedicated to their success means a lot.

And, more broadly, what do students and employers say about UC Online?

Our student body includes many working adults who need flexible programs that work with their schedules. Students want user-friendly online learning technology, too. Some of our students work for companies that require them to get an associate degree or bachelor’s degree to stay in their jobs, and starting a program may feel daunting at first. I enjoy seeing how impressed students are with UC Online and how our quality education meet their needs.

Employers who offer UC Online courses as part of their company benefit program appreciate the SSC’s student-centric mentality. Knowing their employees are valued assures them a good return on investment for whatever tuition and other support they provide employees.

Thanks, Mallery. We enjoyed talking with you!

Yes, it was fun talking about what I do here.

Get Started, Get Connected, Find Success

If you haven’t experienced what it’s like to earn a degree online, here’s what Mallery says you should know.

At UC Online, you can:

  • Study when, where and how it works best for you and your life.
  • Choose from highly ranked, respected online programs, including the childhood education and pharmacy science programs Mallery is associated with, as well as programs that include a Master’s Program for Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Associate of Applied Business in Accounting.
  • Start the online program most any time of the year without having to wait until the fall semester.
  • Interact with instructors and fellow students who live in or outside the Cincinnati metro or across the U.S.
  • Get the support and resources you need to complete your degree.

If you’re ready to learn more about UC Online, connect with a student advisor today. If you’re an employer who’s interested in exploring a UC Online partnership, start here. We’re ready to help you build a better business — and better employees — with a continuing education benefit that puts your employees’ success first.

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Already an online student? UC Online has additional tips and tricks to ensure you are on the path to success. Check out our Student Resources section for what you need to maximize your learning.
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