In our current high-stakes, high-stress educational climate there is no shortage of programs, products and agencies offering help to our students. But finding the right person to address the myriad of student needs can be confusing. Here’s a short list of some of the most frequently utilized options available to students.
Tutoring. Tutors are typically educators trained in a subject matter who work to develop a student’s understanding and proficiency in that subject area.
Educational consulting. Educational consultants assist students in the college planning process. They focus on standardized testing, resume building, college applications and scholarships.
Counseling. Counselors may help a student with a range of personal issues and struggles. Students who experience debilitating anxiety or depressive symptoms may consider talking with a qualified counselor or therapist.
Academic student coaching. An academic student coach is focused on helping students meet their academic and personal goals through skill training and development.
My goal, as an academic student coach is to help students learn and develop skills that will benefit them academically and personally. These include effective study skills and habits, time management and organization skills, relationship and communication skills, and general healthy habits. Adolescents enjoy learning about how their brain works so, rather than relying on workbooks or pre-packaged programs, I teach students the science behind their behavior. I explain the “why” behind the strategies I am encouraging them to adopt.
My clients are oftentimes exceptionally bright students; the type that never really studied or had much homework throughout elementary and middle school, yet always maintained good grades. It’s common for high achieving students to start to question their intelligence once they start experiencing the high rigor of honor and AP courses in high school. They realize that their intellectual ability alone is no longer enough to sustain the good grades.
When this happens the reason is not always evident to the parents or student. In most cases, these students never developed good, effective study skills or time management skills (because they never needed to). And, unfortunately, students may misattribute the cause of their difficulty to no longer being smart enough which can result in defensiveness, avoidance and diminished self-esteem. Sometimes these students appear to lose motivation, start procrastinating more, stop turning in homework, receive poorer grades and even exhibit symptoms of chronic anxiety or depression.
Academic student coaching addresses the root causes of declining or poor performance. Much good can come out of helping a student gain control over their productivity again. They become more energized, positive and motivated. It is amazing how just one small tweak in behavior will make an impactful difference.
To be clear, there are no miracle turnabouts. This entails hard work. A good analogy is learning to play an instrument or a sport. Initial instruction is necessary, but it’s the practice and commitment to improvement that makes you a good musician or athlete. The same is true is for academic and life skills. Skills must be learned, practiced and cultivated over time. But these skills will carry over from school to career to raising a family.