Chain of Command: Jason’s Story

The first thing that Jason, an active-duty soldier starting an undergraduate program, had to learn about school was that it was similar to being in the military. The second thing he had to learn was that it was very different.

Like many of the military-connected students that Ron, an InsideTrack coach, worked with, Jason worried that taking classes and turning in homework would be a big shift from his experience in the service. But by working with Ron, Jason came to see that he was more prepared than he realized.

“The more we talked, the more he recognized, he’d been going through education all along,” Ron said. It was just hiding under a different name: training. The training that was integral to his students’ success in the military may have a direct correlation to the coursework they would master in school, Ron explained.

“Part of the role of the coach is to help them change the terminology so that what they did in the military is more relatable to the outside world, and help them realize that the change is probably not as great as they think,” Ron said.

But while his experience had equipped Jason for school in many ways, in order to succeed academically, he would need to develop a powerful new habit he never practiced in the military. He would have to start asking questions.

For many of his military-connected students, Ron noted, one of the hardest adjustments to academic life was learning to advocate for themselves. They had to take the initiative and talk to their professors about things they didn’t understand. At first, talking to his professor wasn’t something that Jason was comfortable doing.

“Almost every week,” Ron said, he asked Jason, “‘have you reached out to the professor?’” And the answer was always, “‘not yet.’”

Together, Jason and Ron thought about how connecting with his professor could help him meet his long-term goals, and which steps he could take immediately in order to make that connection.

“‘What’s the end result? What’s the goal you have in mind? What is it that you need in order to get that?’” Ron would ask Jason. “‘It’s not going to be given to you automatically by the professor. You need to take responsibility for your education.’”

Emboldened by a renewed appreciation for his own goals, Jason felt ready to tackle the logistics. He and Ron set aside time in his schedule to go to office hours, and planned what he wanted to say when he got there and what information he needed to leave with.

“Be persistent,” Ron emphasized time and time again to his military-connected students. “That is your right.”

Jason and his peers in the military already knew how to surmount tough challenges on behalf of others. With support from InsideTrack coaching, they were able to overcome what might have been their toughest challenge yet: advocating for themselves on behalf of their own dreams.

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