Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies, Measurement, & Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane McEldowney Jensen


Coaching has emerged as a new, innovative practice within higher education. However, we have only begun to understand the true impact of coaching for college students. Research from individual coaching programs has shown that students who participate in coaching sessions are more likely to be retained, have higher GPAs, and engage in self-regulated learning. However, little research has been done to explore coaching from the student perspective. We do not yet understand how students utilize coaching as a tool to optimize their student experience. The goal of this project was to explore how coaching impacts the student experience and to illuminate ways in which coaching might help students develop self-authorship and agency. Using a phenomenological approach, data was generated through semi-structured interviews with 19 students at one university in the southeastern United States. Data analysis illuminated several major themes, including academic success strategies, decision-making, and independence, all of which help students optimize their college experience. Additionally, a perceived increased self-authorship and agency was demonstrated for most students, with first- and second-year students focused primarily on academic development, and junior and senior students focused on future planning and adulthood. Additional demographic features such as gender, major, and race/ethnicity were explored, but did not reveal any significant distinctions in the data.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by a departmental research grant through the College of Education's Department of Educational Policy & Evaluation in spring 2022.