By Madalyn Watson | Staff Writer
Carroll Crowson, the outreach and assessment program manager of Baylor’s Student Success Initiatives, developed the idea for Student Success Stories podcast while searching for a way to develop on-demand resources for students.
The Student Success Initiatives, located in the basement of the Sid Richardson building, is designed to help students be successful by helping them with social, transitional and academic problems.
Aspects of the Student Success Initiatives include the transfer student success program, the Veteran educational and transitional services, the First in Line program, the Pre-Law program, the New Student Experience (NSE) program and the Baylor summer program.
Carroll Crowson has worked with Student Success Initiatives since 2005. She was a career counselor for nine years and oversaw the tutoring program before her current position.
“The main thing about my job is giving vision to ways we can guide students to be even more successful they are,” Crowson said.
When outreaching to students proved to be more difficult with student’s busy schedules, Crowson looked for a way that the resources of the Student Success Center would be more accessible to students.
“My experience is that a lot of times a student just has to be ready to hear study strategies or time management tips, and finding that sweet spot when they’re going to be ready is sometimes challenging,” Crowson said.
Crowson, who had been listening to many podcasts at the time, thought that a podcast would be an easily accessed medium for students.
“Then, I thought, ‘Let’s take it a step further and actually give context for how their fellow students are using these strategies in their real life,” Crowson said.
Crowson decided that interviewing students that had been successfully academically in previous semesters would give the podcast’s content more personality and relatability.
“The first step is learning about a study strategy and a method. The second step is getting a picture of how to incorporate that into your already full life,” Crowson said.
Crowson reached out to students and conducted 45 interviews over the summer of 2018. She utilized the Student Success Collaborative (SSC) system, a technological tool that students use to make Academic Advising appointments.
“Thanks to our technology, I was able to interview people literally on the other side of the world,” Crowson said.
This tool allowed students to create appointments for their digital interviews when they were available during the summer.
“One thing that was really important to me with this podcast was that we would have a really diverse variety of majors, so that a lot of different students would be able to relate,” Crowson said.
The podcast, that is currently on it’s second season, is focused on teaching students new study skills and habits through their peers. Each episode of the Student Success Stories podcast so far focuses on one student and their study habits, morning routines, favorite study spots and time management skills.
“I hope that people can take something away and try it. And it might not work [for them], but maybe they’ll come back and listen to another episode and try something else,” Crowson said.
Crowson said that by interviewing a variety of students with different personalities and backgrounds, the podcast will provide a variety of different strategies and study tricks for students to test.
“I think that gives us a little more freedom and flexibility when we realize that not every strategy is going to work for everybody, but something will work for somebody,” Crowson said.
Dallas senior Jennifer Rivas started working as an intern for Crowson late last September. She said that Episode 11: The Power of Preparation with Tyler senior Bisma Zulifqar resonated with her.
“She was a pre-med student. And I came in pre-med as a freshman. I think if I had listened to her podcast, I probably would still be on that [track],’” Rivas said.
Rivas helped Crowson make her dream for this podcast a reality.
“I would listen to the podcast, and then I would take a cliff notes version just to give to students who want to check it out really quickly. They can just click the show notes and see like, ‘Oh, this looks like an important key takeaway from this podcast,” Rivas said.
The show notes, that Rivas creates, are found under each episode of the podcast on their website. They include links to anything students mentioned during the interview — such as online study tools or the websites for coffee shops and other study spots.
Rivas also runs the Student Success Stories podcast’s Instagram account, which students can follow at @studentsuccessstories.
“I contact the person that’s going to be featured that week, and I ask for a picture. And then I ask them if they want to do an Instagram story takeover on our profile,” Rivas said.
Rivas also posts pictures with quotes from upcoming episodes on the days leading up to their release.
New episodes are posted weekly on their website and can also be accessed through Apple podcast.
Sacramento, Calif. junior Josh Whitney, the Marketing intern for Student Success Initiatives, edits the audio files for the podcast. He began working with the Student Success Intiatives this semester.
“The only reason they brought me on to do the podcasts is because I had done a little bit of a podcast with my friend over the summer,” Whitney said.
Whitney said that when he worked on a podcast about Disney with his friend over the summer, he used GarageBand to edit the audio files.
Since most computers at Baylor are Windows computers instead of Apple, Whitney taught himself to use a similar audio editing program, Adobe Audition.
“I also work with Ben Cooper who does the Baylor Pre-Law podcast called Bears, the Bar and Beyond,” Whitney said.
Although the podcast is not the only project Whitney is working on, he said that the Student Success Stories podcast is looking for a large variety of students to interview for future seasons.
“We’re going to try this time around and pull more success stories that are less so much about how people are getting good grades, and maybe some really cool examples of people doing really unique things with their time while still managing [to have] good grades,” Whitney said.
If students want to ask questions, provide feedback or suggest topics to be covered and friends to be interviewed, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org.