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A passion for encouraging student success

Amy Riley, Ecampus student success manager 

Amy Riley sits on a table in the Oregon State University Valley Library. Behind her is a large window, which shows students walking in the quad.

After serving 3.5 years as an Ecampus student success counselor, Amy Riley has taken on a leadership role to develop and manage initiatives aimed at improving student success.

By Heather Doherty  
October 17, 2016

For more than a decade, Amy Riley has worked in higher education primarily with adult and online students. So when her family moved to Oregon from Washington, she wasn’t going to take just any old job. She was going to wait for the one that matched her passion: helping others.

She found that and more as a student success counselor for Oregon State Ecampus.

“I had been keeping my eye on positions here at OSU for about a year. That role felt like the perfect fit for me,” she says. “It combined work with this population that I have a great deal of respect for, as well as incorporated that transitional piece as so many students come to online learning as transfers from another school or after being away from school altogether for a significant period of time.”

Amy found that one of the most common questions students seek help for is, “How do I manage everything I have to do, and how do I do it all well?”

“There’s no cut and dry answer, every student has such different experiences and needs,” she says. “One of the first things I try to do is let them know how normal it is to feel overwhelmed by it all, it’s hard work. Planning is key, as is recognizing that taking care of themselves, their families and their careers is still important, and creating that balance will allow them to continue on.”

She recommends students take advantage of the resources and people available to support online learners, and points out that learning online doesn’t mean you have to navigate it all alone.

“Also, don’t overdo it in the first few terms,” she says. “Take some time to ease in to school if you’ve been out for a while or haven’t taken online classes before, and see how it will work with a class or two. Then move up from there if you feel like you’re ready and your schedule permits more class time.”

“Planning is key, as is recognizing that taking care of themselves, their families and their careers is still important, and creating that balance will allow them to continue on.”

The best part of the job, she says, is hearing back from students about how they are meeting their goals.

“I appreciate being able to partner with them and offer a level of support that is focused on helping them as an individual identify what success looks, and how they can get there,” she says. “When they have a successful moment and reach out to update me or just say, ‘Thanks,’ it really makes my day.”

After serving 3.5 years as an Ecampus student success counselor, Amy has taken on a leadership role to develop and manage initiatives aimed at improving student success.

“I’m looking forward to really focusing on how we can create more robust and proactive services to support our distance learners,” she says of her new position as the Ecampus student success manager. “While I’ll miss speaking with students each day, I’m excited to be able to focus more on new and improved services. We are reaching out early now and provide a much richer level of support for students in their early transitional period. I’d like to see us expand that to be able to connect with students more effectively when they are beginning to experience academic distress.”

So far, Amy says, she’s received great feedback on her team’s newer services.

“I’m excited to see what kind of projects we can initiate that are not only helpful for students, but support the culture of innovation and creativity that come from OSU and Ecampus,” she says. “Supporting students effectively at a distance is critical, and with the field itself being relatively young in higher education, there is so much to explore and figure out in terms of student readiness, student support and best practices in general for online student success.”

Prior to Oregon State, Amy served as an admission advisor, academic advisor, and coordinator and director of new student enrollment support at various schools.

She’s also held roles in case management and social services, including working as a family development and health services coordinator for an Early Head Start program working with families with children three years old and under.

While those jobs may have led to her current position, Amy also spent time testing the waters (quite literally) by trying new things – a method she recommends to the students she serves. She conducted research as a hydrographic surveyor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and briefly worked on a cruise ship as a facilities employee.

“I love to travel, so those positions were great for that reason,” she says. “I also enjoy learning new things; I think it’s really important to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.”

Amy earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Washington and recently completed a M.S. in Distance Education Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville online.

“While my education and training provided some foundational skills, I’ve learned most of what I bring to my work from the students themselves,” she says. “I have an incredible amount of respect for what it takes to go back to school online or as a nontraditional student. I think I may actually learn more from the students I work with than they learn from me.”

Read more about the OSU Ecampus student success counselors and their work – and meet the rest of the team, including Theresa Harper, Bethany Ulman and Tom Casey.

3 Comments

  • Colleen D. says:

    Hello, I had a question about the Masters in Counseling hybrid program. Am I able to complete the program by enrolling in only 1-2 classes per quarter? I know it’s already set at 2 classes per quarter. I ask because I am currently active duty in the Coast Guard and my educational benefit allows for only a certain amount that is less than the cost. Thanks.

  • Heather Doherty says:

    Hi Colleen,
    Thanks for reaching out. I am going to connect you with one of our enrollment services specialists who can answer your question. Please check back in soon. Thanks! -Heather

  • Melissa Whitney says:

    Hi Colleen,

    My name is Melissa and I work in Enrollment Services for Oregon State Ecampus. Please feel free to email as at ecampus@oregonstate.edu or give us a call at 800-667-1465 and I would be happy to help!

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