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Academic Coaching for College Students: Get Help Transitioning Into College

Preparing for and transitioning to college presents unique challenges.  Students have worked diligently to get into the school of their dreamshours of challenging courses, test preparation, and extracurricular activities.  Others view college as the necessary next step toward securing better professional future opportunities.  Transitioning successfully is a key component to making the most of the college experience to help ensure students are ready to meet every challenge and achieve their educational goals. 

High school students have a certain degree of structure in their day, when students go to college, they experience significantly less structure.  College students are typically in class with their professors for less time during the week but have significantly more work to complete assignments and study outside of class.  The sudden change in expectations is not always clear to students transitioning into college, leaving them potentially overwhelmed or caught by surprise at midterms.  Coupled with the social distractions, living on their own, and general self management, it can be difficult for college freshmen to find a way to focus on academics successfully. 

College is a critical time for students to learn about themselves while pursuing their academic interests, but transitions can be challenging even for very bright students.  When you’ve worked this hard to get to the school of your dreams, it helps to hit the ground with the tools you need to succeed—that’s where coaching for executive functioning can help.  

What is a college coach?

College coaches specialize in teaching executive functioning for students in the college environment.. Whereas college tutoring is designed to help students in a specific area of their education (math, chemistry, writing, etc.), academic coaching functions more broadly, emphasizing what’s known as ‘executive functioning’ skillscognitive abilities that affect planning and executing, memory, critical thinking, and one’s ability to exercise self-control. 

College is a significant investment.  The dropout rate for college freshmen is 30% and college students generally, 40%.  College coaches can help students beat the odds by providing individualized instruction and essential guidance students need to transition to their new educational environment. Over time, students learn more about themselves and new ways to excel and/or identify and overcome challenges. College coaching can help students identify and access the resources that may be present on campus they may not know exists.  

What to expect when hiring a college coach from Effective Students

Life as a student is busy, that’s why we designed our academic coaching services to be flexible yet consistent.   If you’re considering hiring a college coach, here are some key details to consider beforehand:

  • College academic coaching begins before students head to school in the fall but can start at any time.  
  • Sessions are weekly and start at 1 hour but can move to 30 minutes depending on the student’s progress.  
  • Effective Students works with students in-person throughout the Atlanta area. Prefer a virtual option? College coaches online services are also available!
  • Our academic coaching for college students covers,
    • Time management
    • Study locations
    • Study skills
    • Self advocacy
    • Planning and forecasting
    • Resources (online, in person, at school)
    • Personal care, exercise, nutrition, sleep
    • Boundaries 
    • Project Management
    • Getting up and getting to class!
    • Checking on yourself and how you’re doing

Teaching self-awareness and essential time management skills are foundational to the success of transitioning students.  Rather than throwing them into a ‘sink or swim’ environment, college academic coaching with Effective Students gives them tools and resources they need early on to adapt and successfully meet new academic challenges.

Questions about how college academic coaching can work on your schedule or pricing? Contact us for more information!

Common Misconceptions of Students in College:

1. Professors make study guides for students, schedules for projects, and worksheets to learn content, etc.
2. Professors/Instructors will warn them when they’re underperforming
3. Their newfound freedom and independence will not lead them to slack or coast.
4. Professors/instructors will give second chances for missed assignments, absences, etc.
5. To be able to juggle social life successfully (partying, friends, activities) and school without forecasting intentionally.

College students should:

1. Find a study space that works for THEM and GO
2. Study in groups (if that works for them)
3. Balance social and study time – don’t party too much/don’t study too much. Be intentional about planning this on a weekly basis. College academic coaches can help with this by training students in specific areas of executive function.
4. Join activities and clubs to make new friends – variety is the spice of life!
5. Develop professional relationships with their teachers (office hours, emails, etc.). Yes – it matters. One day you will need favor and it’s best to build it ahead of time.
6. Manage their own deadlines and schedules – get help with this if you need to, it’s part of learning and learning is lifelong.
7. Set and track personal goals. It’s part of growing up! College academic coaching can help by keeping students accountable and assisting in the development of realistic goals.
8. Take care of their physical and mental health (exercise, diet, meditation, etc.). You get out what you put in.
9. Pick classes and plan their schedule strategically — have a plan. Will scheduling a morning class make you get up and get going? What if you need to have a part time job? When will you plan to study? College academic coaching can help students isolate their strengths and identify areas where they need to improve, helping them make the most of their academic situation.
10. Find out who can help them and what resources they have. Yes – they are there, but you will need to ask. College academic coaching can help identify what resources are available and how they can help them academically.
11. Set plenty of alarms and GO TO CLASS, GO TO CLASS. Did we mention, GO TO CLASS?
12. Sit in the front and take notes. It helps them to pay attention. College academic coaching can help by providing additional tips and tricks to help students better absorb and interpret material.
13. CALL HOME (parents and coaches are still their biggest supporters)

What is Academic Coaching?

A few months ago, when people would ask me what I do, I used to say “I’m a tutor,” because it sounded appropriate and seemed close enough to ‘Academic Coach’ without having to go into too much detail. After all, a tutor and an Academic Coach are basically the same thing, right?

Well, yes. But also, no.

I came to realize pretty soon that the difference between a tutor and an Academic Coach is actually significant – and crucial. Whereas a tutor may help a student in a specific subject as needed to help them finish their homework, earn a better grade, and make Mom and/or Dad happy, an Academic Coach aims for something that extends beyond just temporary success.

Learning Tools for Improving Executive Functions

As Academic Coaches at Effective Students, we strive to provide instruction that equips students with valuable learning tools that won’t just get them through the week, but which last a lifetime — tools that students can personalize and use independently as they progress not only through middle and high school, but also college and eventually in the workforce.  When a student feels confident and organized, they are more open to apply time management strategies, practice different study skills as well as plan and prioritize.

I always share with my students my own current experiences at work and college, because the lessons I’ve learned through this curriculum have never stopped being important. I use them almost every single day – and when I don’t… it shows. I’ve also realized there is always room to grow and improve.

As an Academic Coach, I seek to help my students set goals to reach their full potential while appreciating the benefit of developing a lifelong learning toolkit. Help a student finish their homework and they’ll get a good grade the next day – but if you inspire and train them to use the tools for success, they’ll be a more effective student for life.

What Is the difference between an Academic Coach and a Tutor?

 

Parents may ask, does my student need an ‘Academic Coach’ or do they need a tutor?”  This is an important question as parents decide what is the best first step.  

What is a tutor?

Generally, a tutor provides subject specific information, helping a student understand a specific subject.  Perhaps the student is having difficulty understanding the material due to the size of their current class, the way their teacher is explaining the concept or perhaps have pre-requisite gaps.  

What is an Academic Coach?

An Academic Coach is charged with equipping their student with habits and skills the student needs to become successful on their own.  If we use sports as a parallel, a soccer coach instructs players in practice to prepare them for the game.  The players participate in drills, the coach provides feedback, helping the player become aware of what he/she is doing well and where they need to change their performance or approach.  The coach is responsible for helping students play the game more successfully and hopefully, win.  

Transferring the concept to academics, an Academic Coach should do the equivalent, training the student by preparing him/her with a set of habits and skills that enable them  to be academically successful.   What does academic success look like?  That differs for each student, some want all A’s, some want to turn in their homework on time, others want their parents to leave them alone and still others want to learn material faster.  It is the coach’s job to help the student clarify their goals and equip them to get there.  

Improving Executive Functioning via The Effective Students Method™

When coaching a student to develop Executive Functions, Effective Students believe it’s important to equip students with a process they can master and ultimately use in our absence. The end goal is for students to become aware of their own gaps, self advocate and then direct their own learning.  Students are often given strategies but do not have enough practice and training with any given one to determine whether it’s helpful or not. 

According to Malcom Gladwell, it takes 3,000 repetitions to build a habit and 10,000 repetitions to build skills.  A habit is what we can do without thinking, a skill is what we can do under pressure.  Anytime we learn something new, at first it’s difficult or uncomfortable.  Pick up a new hobby recently? 

An Academic Coach comes alongside a student and does it ‘with’ but not ‘for’.  That includes binder organization, forecasting, developing study actions and practicing them.  While it’s tempting to do it ‘for’ the student for the sake of efficiency, doing so robs the student of a learning opportunity.  

In the end, some students need a tutor in order to master specific content. If they’ve had good academic coaching, they should know how to use their tutor more efficiently, by preparing a specific list of questions, prior to the session.  

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.  

© 2021 W3 Connections Inc.