Online Adviser Personalizes Journey Toward a Degree

Student Academic Success Specialist Melanie Lipton.

Great advisers do everything in their power to ensure students excel. But Melanie Lipton, student academic success specialist for Psychology at the University of Arizona Online, goes above and beyond on a daily basis.

“One thing that surprises people is how much I do for my students,” Lipton said. “Sometimes that’s helping them compose an email to an instructor, or looking for online apps that can help them study Spanish, or finding childcare resources.”

What makes Melanie amazing is her patience with students. She understands adult learners in a way few others do.

Lipton says the Arizona Online model empowered her to take this personalized approach. It assigns fewer students per adviser, letting her get to know adult learners who often lead full, active lives outside of school.

“Many students are balancing family and work to finish their degree online, which takes so much discipline and focus,” she said. “It’s a level of determination that never ceases to amaze me. So I try to keep track of their big events, successes, life changes … it’s hard not to become personally involved.”

Jenny Simon, assistant director of Online Student Success, said that Lipton’s secret is her willingness to put in the effort required to make those connections.

“What makes Melanie amazing is her patience with students,” Simon said. “She understands adult learners in a way few others do. She takes the time to really get to know them. Not just what classes they’re taking, but what they’re going through as people.”

Lipton’s dedication has a visible impact. In a 2018 survey of Arizona Online students, 81% said that meeting with their adviser provided a clear path on which courses to take. In addition, graduation rates in the online Psychology program have tripled in the past year.

“I love hearing all about what my students plan to do with their degrees once they graduate,” Lipton said. “I know how hard they worked for it, and nearly all of them want to help make lives better. I can’t help but feel proud of them!”