Coaching Solutions for Underrepresented Student Success

Understanding the Underrepresented

Underrepresented scholars comprise students with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, such as first generation, minority and/or low income. This group faces many additional obstacles unlike their traditional peers. A lack of educational role models, amplified financial burdens and self-confidence issues represent a few of their common challenges.

Hard-working and determined, these students want to work hard for themselves, their families and/or their communities. However, they don’t always understand the steps in the journey, available resources or how to juggle multiple responsibilities without assistance. Coaching gives them an added layer of support and direction to achieve their goals.

Through our experience coaching thousands of underrepresented students, we’ve developed a methodology to provide effective guidance — one that meets students at any point in their education, with the tools they need to succeed.

Niki’s Student Journey

Niki’s story illustrates how coaching drives success among underrepresented students.

Niki, 19, attends North Idaho College as part of the Idaho Pathways in Technology, Early College High School program, which bridges the gap between education and employment. One of the first students to join the program, Niki combined her interest in hands-on mechanical work and problem-solving to pursue an associate of Applied Science degree in aviation maintenance technology. The degree she will earn in spring 2018 will make her the first of the five kids in her family to graduate college.

“Getting my degree means a lot to me,” she said. “My mom passed away when I was 4 and it was important to my family, especially to my dad, that I at least graduate high school. Completing college will mean even more.. It’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

Challenges and Motivation

And Niki does a lot. She works 33 to 40 hours a week at two jobs to ensure she has the funds to pay bills and stay in school. She has a strong family support network but also receives help and guidance about managing schedules and other difficulties from her success coach, Hayley.

“She always brings me back to reality when I get caught in the midst of school and life,” Niki said. “She helps me realize that it is normal to struggle, most people go through it.”

Niki manages, but the journey she has chosen demands perseverance, focus and commitment. One seemingly small incident could derail her plans.

“I’m living paycheck to paycheck right now, so I don’t really have a safety net,” she said. “If I didn’t have a job, I would have to put a pause on school, and I really don’t want to do that.”

Asked about her biggest challenge, she said she tends to take on too much, thinking she can handle anything. Hayley helps her determine realistic expectations and provide support wherever needed at the time to keep Niki on track and in school.

“My biggest help has been mostly Hayley with her coaching, and my family who talk me through everything,” she said. “She always starts off with you and how you’re doing and finishes with her questions about academics.”

Niki’s story is typical of the journey faced by many underrepresented students. Despite the ups and downs, she remains committed to leveraging support and making it to the finish line.

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