As a student success coach at a four-year institution, our ultimate goal is to retain our new students – turning freshmen into sophomores and sophomores into juniors. Sounds simple, right? But so much more goes into it. We have a large population of students who start their college journeys minimally prepared and uninformed. Many of the students that come to our office have no clue what they want to do post-college and chose college because either “someone told them to” or “everyone else was doing it.”

That leaves us, as student success coaches, with a lot of foundational building. So we did what we do best, case management and intrusive advising that allowed us to develop a portfolio for each student, which would create the groundwork for the student’s success pathway. However, there wasn’t enough time in the eight-hour workday to do this with our caseloads of 400+ students.

Wasn’t there a software out there that could identify what these particular students liked to do, what they were good at, and what they might excel in that can start the conversation and lay the groundwork for the student? This information could shape the way the success pathway is created and how the student matriculates moving forward.

That’s where Kuder systems and their training team came in. Here it was, this free software that would do what my team and I envisioned – help our students in their major exploration and career decisions. It was truly an answered prayer.

We have implemented Kuder systems in our Freshman Seminar I & II courses. [Both courses are a part of our general education curriculum.] We have the students create profiles [within the Kuder Journey® component] and they are required to complete the three career assessments so that we can best discuss career options and provide diagnosis for his/her future. My college students have found it to be:

I always thought to myself, “What if a software like this was introduced to my college students earlier on? Would so many of our students struggle with major decisions and career planning?” So when the Kuder trainers discussed the other sections of Kuder Galaxy® for elementary and Kuder Navigator® for middle and high school students, there it was — another answered prayer.

It was a no-brainer that I wanted my own children exposed to career awareness content. As an educator, I see the importance of a software like this one and when you hear and know about a good thing, it’s very hard to keep it to yourself, which is why I participated in another training under Kuder’s leadership with elementary educators to learn how to implement and support Galaxy at my children’s elementary school. My son Brice (9), and daughter Selina (5), have continued working in their Galaxy accounts and have been exploring all sorts of careers while traveling from planet to planet. A program like Galaxy cultivates the next generation of leaders in their respective professions.

Witnessing Brice and Selina utilize Galaxy made my heart so full because as a student success coach, I come across hundreds of students matriculating with an undecided major, students completing major changes, and students deciding to withdraw altogether because “college isn’t for them.” It completely breaks my heart when students get discouraged or show an enormous amount of anxiety because my office was the very first place they discussed career exploration and now, they simply just don’t know.

Through Galaxy, I envision a complete culture shift for what it means to be “college ready.” Getting our kids, from the time they enter the structured school system, which are arguably their most impressionable years and feeding them information on the many careers, in a language they can comprehend, is absolutely brilliant. Without even thinking about it, Selina was able to identify that her father has a job that deals with his hands. And she’s absolutely right, her dad is a deputy. Before I knew it, she was asking him questions about the different types of things he would do with his hands. At the time, her dad had no clue where this conversation stemmed from, but when I shared Galaxy with him, he was amazed and wondered where a program like this was when we were children.

Thank you Kuder, for making the future brighter.

Stacey Speller headshot

Stacey Speller is a student success coach for Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida.