The Discovery Scholars Program (DSP) welcomed its first cohort of students in the fall 2013 semester, after completing the transition from its previous iteration as the Longhorn Scholars Program. Approximately 150 students in size, the fall 2013 cohort was chosen from the pool of incoming first-year UGS students and placed into DSP as their 360 Connection. In the fall 2014 semester, the cohort size increased to approximately 270 students.
DSP is an academic coaching program for UT Austin students admitted to the School of Undergraduate Studies. After being selected for DSP before new student orientation, these students are assigned an academic coach, who is tasked with providing them with information on resources and services that will help ease the transition from high school to college. Whether it be academic, career, or social issues, a student’s academic coach is there to utilize the support structures in place at UT Austin to meet their unique needs. In addition, academic coaches rely upon their knowledge of student development and professional and personal experience to help solve problems.
DSP believes taking a holistic view of a student yields the best strategies on ways to improve their success. Whereas other coaching programs at large universities clearly delineate between academic and personal obstacles for students, DSP coaches have the versatility to be a resource for a wide range of student issues. While there are situations in which referral to a more specific resource on campus is necessary, DSP students should have the expectation that they can rely on their academic coach as an empathetic figure who is genuinely invested in their experience as a student at UT Austin.
The DSP Mentor Program exists to cultivate relationship-building among first-year students and upperclassmen within the Discovery Scholars Program. DSP Mentors aim to assist with the transition from high school to college by connecting students to campus resources, sharing personal experiences, and promoting an inclusive environment. The DSP Mentor Program is certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) in order to provide professional standards of skill and training, recognition for mentors’ successful work, and to strengthen program credibility. Through training, mentors are equipped with skills and experiences transferable to other professional opportunities and their future careers after UT Austin.