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Advice for Graduates and Deserted Island Companions with Dean of Student Services Jenn Welch

Providing an unparalleled level of personal support is a cornerstone of the Bryant & Stratton College experience. This is felt from the day a student applies, right on through to graduation. The relationship between our students and the academic support staff is vital to the personal connection and support that Bryant & Stratton prides itself on offering. Photo of Bryant & Stratton Online dean of student services Jenn Welch

Whether assisting with scheduling for a new semester, offering assistance with an academic issue or simply as a source of motivation; the student services department serves an incredibly important role at Bryant & Stratton College. In order to learn a little more about why that personal connection is so important, we sat down for a Q&A with Bryant & Stratton Online’s Dean of Student Services Jenn Welch.  

What do you enjoy most about working at Bryant & Stratton College Online?

The thing that I like the most is that our mission and philosophy are very student-centered. Everything from processes within every department to communication strategies and marketing is really focused on the student’s point of view. Additionally, I feel that we offer great programs that are feasible and marketable. Obviously, it’s important for the student to find gainful employment after earning their diploma/degree.

Plus, I work with amazing individuals! We always have fun while still getting things done and focusing on the mission and philosophy here at BSC. Everyone is here for the right reasons and understands how their day to day interactions really impact student’s lives. 

What about Bryant & Stratton College makes you feel the most pride?

Definitely our philosophy on education. There are a lot of other schools that are both public and private that are in the profession of creating competitive programs, but we really stay true to our philosophy. We also go above and beyond to help students navigate their way through higher education. We not only teach them what they need skill set-wise to be able to take the next step in their career, but also “soft skills”. Examples would include how to communicate effectively, time management skills, and creating that sense of confidence through interaction with staff/faculty. These are skills that I can attest to that when I went through school I didn’t have. At that time things seemed to be more systematic: You got registered for your classes, you went to class, you did what you needed to do, got your grade and just kept moving along. There didn’t seem to be that sense of community and support that you have here at Bryant & Stratton College Online. 

What advice would you give to prospective online students at Bryant & Stratton?

The first thing would be to have the mindset that at this point of time in your life, it’s okay to be selfish. Selfish, meaning to focus on something you really want to do. A large percentage of our demographic is female-based, also typically an older generation of students and not fresh out of high school. These are adults with real lives, potentially with children, and other responsibilities. They do not have a lot of free time and they typically don’t put themselves first, this would be the time to put themselves first. 

Students also need to focus on what they want to get out of their program. Also realize that when you experience that stress and anxiety as you progress towards the finishing your program, keep up communication with your support team: faculty and staff here at Bryant & Stratton. Things will not be easy at certain points but if you maintain that line of communication, our staff be able to assist you through those times.

What advice would you give to Bryant & Stratton graduates?

To never stop learning and developing yourself. The amazing thing about education is its something that you have control over, and no one can take away from you. Never settle, always look to better yourself and be a positive change agent!

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had started college?

I would have made sure that I created a positive and supportive support system to help me throughout my higher education experience. This is something we do not always think about when enrolling in college and what impact it could have on our overall success. Often we depend on our personal support system, which is typically comprised of our family and friends. However, sometimes those individuals are not always positive, understanding and supportive. It is important to have supportive people in your life that can lift you up instead of bringing you down.

What is the greatest challenge in your role as Dean?

I believe the biggest challenge is getting students to have an open line of communication.  Our associates encounter and assist with numerous challenging situations. The difficulty is getting those students to open up that connection to communicate their needs. In a virtual environment it’s very different, you can only have so much personability to connect with an individual. One of the great things about student services and Bryant & Stratton is that we tap into is using different platforms of communication with students (email, phone, text). 

At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to work with students in this capacity?

I always wanted to be a teacher and that is what my undergraduate degree is in- Education. I had things planned out very early on. In my senior year of high school, I was involved with Urban League Headstart, which was an early childhood education program. During undergrad I completed my student teaching and was a director for an after school program. When I graduated, I felt a little burned out on Education because I had already been so involved with it. At that point I switched career tracks and entered the Medical field- earning a Graduate Degree in Exercise Science & Health. I started the process of applying to Med. School but then received an opportunity to teach at the Higher Education level. I taught Anatomy & Physiology and some clinical based courses at a college and loved the experience. I loved interacting with students and seeing that moment when “the lightbulb went on” for them. 

I had been teaching for about 2 months with the college and they offered me the opportunity to become the Academic Dean and now I am going into my 15th year in educational leadership! I transitioned into the Dean role here at Bryant & Stratton College- Online in 2018 and I have really enjoy building and developing teams who are passionate about a student-centered approach to education. It’s very important to me that our associates understand our students, that they can connect with students and impact their student experience in a positive way.  

What do you envision for the future of education, and how will technology align with it?

I think that now with the current state of our country it’s going to take huge shift, especially compared to education models prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. I think with all sectors (K-12 and Higher Education) there will be a big move to an online- blended format. I believe it will be very mobile application driven. Even with Bryant & Stratton’s current advanced online offering, things are continuously being updated and taken to the next level. The virtual classroom will be a huge component to this and I’m excited to see new innovations that will develop. Future generations will continue to be very reliant on modern technology and it will be integrated into our educational experiences even more.  

One advantage during this time is that Bryant & Stratton College has been offering online programs for a long time. While at more traditional education institutions it has been somewhat challenging to quickly adapt, our college has been able to make a smooth transition. 

If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose and why?

I think flying, because I really like to travel. Being able to fly would give me that autonomy to get where I want to go quickly. 

If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

I would need to have my dogs (Forest and Berkley) and a Kindle or tablet with an endless number of books available. I love to read and would really like to have that.

If you could compare yourself with any animal, which would it be and why?

As an animal lover, I would choose a Penguin. They have qualities that I also embody such as intelligence, loyalty and being agile (not so much on land but in the water). Plus, they’re just so darn cute!

I also have great memories of seeing penguins at the St. Louis Zoo as a child. 

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Although I’m not a big fan of sweets, I do really love ice cream. The one flavor I would choose is Pistachio. 




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