Center for Student Success

Learning and Development

The staff at the Center for Student Success (CSS) employ several student-centered approaches that focus on leveraging and maximizing each student's natural talents. Rooted in positive psychology, the use of these asset-based frameworks grounds each interaction with students in a growth-mindset in order to help them uncover their own potential.

Staff in the Center for Student Success have earned masters and doctoral degrees, and continue to hone their professional skills through engagement in regular learning and development sessions on a variety of topics that enhance their work with students. Learning and development in CSS focuses on the fundamentals of coaching, the understanding of campus resources, the implementation of professional competencies, and the use and development of industry best practices.

CSS uses a student-centered approach informed by the Appreciative Education (AE) framework in all coaching sessions and student interactions. This framework consists of a six-step system that focuses on positive relational engagement with students. It is an intentional, impactful practice used across campus that helps students create their version of success one step at a time.

Visit this site to learn more about the Appreciative Education framework.

The Center for Student Success at Oberlin College and Conservatory believes that all students have inherent natural abilities that can be developed and focused to achieve the students desired state of success. CSS helps students maximaize their Oberlin experience from beginning to end by assisting them in developing positive and asset-based thinking - developing and targeting their strengths, rather than dwelling on their weaknesses. 

The power to achieve your goals is already inside you!

When students learn to develop themselves through a strengths-based mindset and asset-based thinking, it creates a positive impact on their personal, professional, and academic experience. Oberlin College and Conservatory has adopted the CliftonStrengths assessment as a tool to aid students in developing a strengths-based approach to their education. This tool is open to all of the Oberlin campus community as a means of self-growth and personal development. 

Students interested in taking the CliftonStrengths assessment can email CSS at or use this link to start the conversation.

Note: Taking the CliftonStrengths assessment is free to all currently enrolled Oberlin students. 


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The Center for Student Success provides training opportunities for all Oberlin faculty and staff on the Appreciative Education (AE) model and the CliftonStrengths tool. Each year, faculty and staff attend a workshop to further develop their understanding of each model and noted scholars from the field are invited to present current research and lead interactive activities to aid in bridging theory to practice. Additional in-service opportunities are provided by request and are designed by the CSS Learning and Development Advisory Board.

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