Coaching insights and pro tips on student success

Long-time coaches share their insights on best ways to help increase student success

On any given day, InsideTrack Coaches connect with hundreds of college and university students of all ages and backgrounds. Through 20 years of supporting student success, these coaches have amassed an amazing level of insight and expertise. They know what resonates with students, how to connect them with campus resources, which tools to use for different circumstances, and how to connect one-on-one to earn a student’s trust. And they’d like to share some of that expertise with you. Five questions, three coaches, and an enthusiastic supply of helpful information from coaches who have supported countess students and institutions.

Meet the insiders behind the insights.

Q&A with Emilia Gilroy-Sander, Taylor Jabour and Tina Jones, InsideTrack Success Coaches

What does coaching mean to you?

Emilia: I feel like being a coach is such an honor. Being able to witness the incredible growth and accomplishments that our students experience is unlike anything else.

Taylor: Coaching is a chance to become a part of someone’s educational journey. As they’re moving toward a personal goal, I work to meet them where they’re at, understand their “why” and guide them through the steps to achieve that goal.

Tina: Coaching is my opportunity to give back to all the people who supported me through college. As a first-generation student, I had no idea what I was getting into when I moved away to college. Luckily, my Student Support Team invested additional time and energy to provide the personalized support I needed. Now coaching is my chance to help other students transition successfully into college and achieve their goals.

What’s your favorite coaching tool … and why?

Emilia: The GROW framework (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) is one of my favorite coaching tools because it allows for tailored student advancement to occur in coaching meetings. By continually advancing students within meetings, we create the space to build the knowledge base, skills, and attitudes that it takes to succeed in school and beyond.

coaching tool - GROW: Goal, reality, options, will

Taylor: My favorite tool is the stoplight exercise. It makes it easy to talk about making changes that students might otherwise have a hard time admitting.

coaching tool - Stoplight, what do you want to stop doing, what do you want to continue doing and what do you want to start doing

Tina: My favorite coaching tool to leverage is the wedding cake model. This model helps me better understand my students’ core values to build their motivation through school. Ultimately, it’s about asking additional questions to get down to the root of what’s important for students. I’ve found this helpful when students are facing challenges, decisions and changes to their plan.

coaching tool - wedding cake: core values, career, degree

How does coaching complement campus resources, like advising?

Emilia: Coaches set students up to maximize the resources available to them. We partner with students to understand what to ask, how to communicate, and how to navigate the institutional system overall. Students who partner with a coach are more likely to be prepared to engage with their campus resources — which benefits the students, the school, and the student support professionals working for the school … WIN, WIN, WIN!

Taylor: Coaching is an amplifier — it amplifies and builds on the efforts of other campus resources. We take the time to understand each student’s challenges and assess how to best deal with obstacles. Incorporating campus resources into the mix greatly increases “stickiness,” or follow-through, with the goals the student needs to achieve.

Tina: Coaching complements existing campus resources, including advising, financial aid, tutoring and career services. Part of what we do involves helping students create a plan — a manageable to-do list — for interacting with campus resources. We also work with them on how to follow up and make sure they do what they need to do in order to succeed.  Coaching often reinforces messages and desired behavior that other campus resources appreciate. I’ve seen students increase their use of other campus resources through coaching because I was able to discuss how the student would personally benefit from connecting with other campus resources.

What’s your number one piece of advice for those who support students?

Emilia: Make sure you have the core belief that all students can and will succeed. Having unconditional positive regard for the students you work with is so key.

Taylor: Actively listen to your students and ask questions to seek to fully understand them and their situation.

Tina: I’m inspired every day by the continuous passion and work that individuals are doing to support students. During this uncertain time, my number one piece of advice is to be intentional about your own self-care. I’ve interacted with so many support people that go above and beyond for students daily. Students need you now in more ways than ever, but that requires you to have the energy to give. Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you are taking care of students.

What’s an area that tends to be an obstacle for students? And what’s your number one piece of advice for students?

Emilia: Some online students react strongly when they get certain feedback via email from their instructor or advisor. They personalize the interaction and start to feel like they don’t belong and that “that person has it out for me.” Sometimes these assumptions become such a barrier that their grades suffer or they withdraw. When this happens, I try to normalize the situation. I use the CLEAR Framework (Confirm, Legitimize, Evaluate, and Respond) to shift their perspective, empowering them to realize the influence they have over the situation and explore the options they have to resolve their barrier and move forward.

Taylor: Academics are often a challenge that stem from weak study skills. My advice to students is that studying is not about reading from the first to the last word of a chapter or reading something nonstop for hours. Studying is about learning the material in a way that works for you — and the more active you are or the more you do with the material you need to learn, the more likely you are to remember it.

Tina: Something I often see students struggle with — especially in an online environment — is forgetting that college is a learning experience and you’re not supposed to be perfect. You will miss points, you will misunderstand an assignment or two, you will run into a time where you couldn’t do your best work, and you will struggle to balance college with life. It’s OK and should be expected. A learning experience is about doing your best and learning as you go. Forget perfect and focus on learning.

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