When health, financial and academic struggles collide
Pain is the body’s way of telling us to take care of ourselves. The throbbing pain she felt after getting her wisdom teeth removed told Joelle, a first-year community college student, that she needed to take care of an infection. But sometimes the signals coming from stress and emotional pain aren’t as clear. It can be tough to know when we need to reach out, and what help we’ll find when we do.
That’s why every student coached by InsideTrack has access to a team of coaches specially trained to help students through their toughest struggles. The Crisis Student Support (CSS) team provides direct support to all InsideTrack Coaches and their students. CSS coaches can step in when students are in a situation where they feel unusually stressed or overwhelmed, and do not have the personal support that they need.
Joelle’s infection put her behind in school, at a time when mounting bills and personal challenges made it harder than ever to stay focused.
Over a series of text exchanges, Joelle told her InsideTrack Coach Erin what she was facing. Because coaching focuses on everything inside and outside the classroom that can impact student success, Erin provided Joelle with academic support as well as support mitigating financial stressors. She also connected her with an InsideTrack CSS coach.
Coach Erin: So be honest, I imagine this had made things really hard with school. Are you able to focus and submit stuff or feeling pretty behind?
Student Joelle: I spent a lot of time last night catching up. I am caught up on two classes.
Coach: That’s huge!! We had discussed considering dropping some or one of the March ones to help focus on balance and grades; what do you think?
Student: I don’t know how many credits I have as of right now without my March classes but I’m pretty sure it isn’t 12 but I will call them and find out. I have been dealing with the electric company for the last 3 days trying to get my services back on (I know it’s one thing after another with me) but hopefully it will be on tomorrow and I can deal with other things.
COACHING TIP: Thorough assessment is key to understanding what’s most urgent and important for the student in and outside of school.
Coach Erin: Focus on basic needs first – you need lights and heat! Is is a matter of connecting with them or are you concerned about paying?
Student Joelle: Both. Its been a struggle because prices went up. So our disconnect was $1200+ so we are getting assistance. But I think its figured out now, we just have to wait until tomorrow for them to reconnect it. As long as things go well today
COACHING TIP: Create awareness around available resources for the student.
Coach Erin: Any kind of bill increase is tough on the budget. Glad you have resources – however – if you find yourself in a jam or needing additional local resources, let me know. I would with a team of coaches who specialize in supporting students with struggles outside of school.
Student Joelle: Lol I wish I would have known that before.
Coach: We need to talk more! Actually, you’ve been doing great.
Student: Yeah for sure. I hate being behind but sometimes its inevitable. You just have to work harder to get caught up.
COACHING TIP: Normalize that “life happens,” and reinforce student’s goals and progress despite obstacles.
Coach Erin: Give yourself lots of props Joelle – I know how much you care about doing well and making progress
Student Joelle: So about that support for students thing? How does that work?
Coach: So I can get you connected. Can you share a bit more about the challenges you are facing outside of school?
Student: Well only one person is working in my house and it’s two adults and 6 pets because one died. And all of the bills are just racking up. We just got WiFi turned back on so we can do homework (we are both online students) but luckily it was only off for one day! But the rent and water are behind so trying to catch up just isn’t going well.
Coach: So sorry about your pet. That’s a lot. And financial predicaments can be really stressful. Thanks for providing more context.
Student: Yeah, we are trying to stay a float and we aren’t being evicted or anything yet so that’s good!
Coach: Glass half full! It’s difficult though and I appreciate you reaching out. Let me touch base with our support coaches. Is this the best way to chat still – you mentioned your phone was off a few weeks ago? We may be able to to identify some additional resources beyond what you’ve already tried for help with utilities and other basic needs.
Student: Oh my phone is back on until the 5th! So either way works in terms of contact.
COACHING TIP: Check yourself! Limit assumptions by offering multichannel communication options to meet the student where they are.
Coach Erin: Okay cool! Are you free now to chat with our support coach or do you want to schedule a time? Let me know if you’d like Kate to call you or if you prefer discussing more here.
Student Joelle: I’m free now!
Coach: Cool – I’ll have Kate call you!
Student name has been changed.