When Siddhi Patel arrived on campus after graduating from high school in nearby Cleveland, Tennessee, she knew there was going to be a period of adjustment. Figuring out how to live away from home for the first time and finding her place at UT were going to take time.
“There were going to be bumps along the road,” says Patel, a biochemistry major. “That’s what my academic coach told me. College is different.”
Patel and thousands of other incoming UT students making that transition have benefited from Vol Success Teams, a new initiative that pairs each student with an academic advisor, academic coach, and One Stop counselor—people who can provide the extra support to make sure their first year on campus is a success.
“They were kind of like my own cheer people,” Patel says. “When I need help with anything that has to do with the university, I know I can reach out to them. And since they’re set, I don’t have to explain everything over and over again to someone new. It makes everything a whole lot easier.”
Academic coaches support students as they develop goals for each semester and create academic success plans, while One Stop counselors provide information on enrollment, financial aid, student accounts, and administrative deadlines. Academic advisors work alongside students as they explore majors and adjust their studies for the career they want to pursue.
“My first advisor helped me build a rudimentary plan of what I’d need to get my degree,” says transfer student Miika Martin.
Martin realized they needed to transfer majors after meeting with a UT advisor. At a previous university, Martin had studied political science and chemistry (housed in the College of Arts and Sciences). But, at UT, Martin was interested in pursuing a computer science degree. After some discussion, Martin’s advisor helped them apply to the Tickle College of Engineering, where UT’s computer science is housed.
“On my own, I probably would’ve missed a few classes I needed because I wasn’t a student in the engineering college,” Martin says. “It saved me an extra semester of study.”
Patel’s success team played an equally important role in her first semester at UT. By the spring, her academic coach was more than just a person on the end of an email or phone line—she had become a friend.
“She’s always kept in touch, making sure I’m doing OK, always giving me advice on how I can do better when I was stressed out,” Patel says. “You eventually get to develop a relationship, as long as you’re willing to reach out.”