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Personal coaching helped students in one statewide initiative overcome barriers and find the resources they needed to succeed, according to a survey.

DVP-PRAXIS LTD, a higher education consulting firm, surveyed 50 students who worked with a success coach as part of the Carolina Works Initiative at 10 community colleges in North Carolina.

The initiative aims to improve retention and completion for students at the community colleges. To this end, it uses success coaches, who are meant to develop personal relationships with students and use data to monitor their progress, help them manage responsibilities and intervene when necessary to ensure students stay on track. A 2014 study found that students paired with success coaches were more likely to persist toward their degrees.

Most students surveyed talked favorably about their experiences with success coaches. The connections with coaches were described as reliable and caring. Students said coaches helped them develop problem-solving skills and overcome barriers. They also provided encouragement and accountability for students. Students also said coaches helped direct them to relevant resources and college personnel. Finally, coaches helped the students explore their academic and career goals, helping them build a road map to achieve them.

The report includes several quotes from students on how important the personal connection was to their success at college.

"I was scared when I decided to go to college but after meeting with my success coach, the college did not look so big -- a friendly face goes a thousand miles. Knowing you have this person, this go-to person, made college easier for me. It was no longer overwhelming, having a coach was calming," one student said.