Every WVU student is different, and between their first class and their graduation, they all walk a different path. A new week can present a new assignment, an unforeseen complication, an unexpected challenge – and not all of them are easily surmountable.
The Chambers College has many resources to help students through those trying times, such as the Becker AeSC and a fully-staffed Advising office. It also has a graduate assistant with a background in psychology who focuses exclusively on helping students overcome those obstacles. His name is Ryan Slaughter.
“I want to understand the way people learn and think so I can train them and help them develop,” said Slaughter. “The better you understand people, the better you understand business.”
Slaughter is the Chambers College’s graduate assistant for retention and persistence. Take note of that title: it’s not just about ensuring the college keeps its students, but also giving those students the tools they need to persevere.
“We want to retain students here the same way you’d want to retain employees in business,” said Slaughter. “When I meet with them, I’m assessing their needs, where the gaps are, what they need to be successful. It’s always one-on-one.
"Maybe a student had a bad exam, or even a personal issue like a death in the family. I try to provide support as well as dealing with any other issues that arise throughout the semester. I’ll coach them and give them strategies to help them through.”
Those strategies could involve anything from study tips to test preparation plans. Slaughter’s methods are often research-based, and always geared holistically to whomever he’s working with.
Nor are his services exclusive to any one kind of student. There’s no bar they have to reach, no requirement they have to fulfill. Anyone can meet with Slaughter – they just have to sign themselves up. As he puts it, “It’s up to them to do the heavy lifting."
That, too, teaches students a valuable lesson that will serve them far beyond their graduation: persistence has to come from within. Everyone has the strength to make it over that next mountain. Slaughter’s job is to help students discover it.
“I can think of one person who wasn’t having a great semester,” said Slaughter. “They couldn’t connect the classes they were taking to what they wanted to do. They had the ability, but not the sense of direction. After a semester of success coaching, they were able to find that internal motivation.
“A good amount of the students I work with – not all of them, but a good amount – have that same problem. They feel like they’re supposed to have everything figured out. The first thing they need to do is figure out what they want now and where they want to be in the future. I just try to help them find their purpose.”
CONTACT: Andrew Marvin
John Chambers College of Business and Economics