Helping Students Forced Online To Succeed

How do you fully support student success when students are forced online due to the pandemic? That’s where our focus wheel comes in — a specially developed coaching assessment tool that serves as a way for you to support your students holistically in eight key areas that impact their success. Understanding the basics behind each section gives you a simple way to focus your assessments and ask students targeted questions designed to get them on track and help them succeed.


Not surprisingly, a student’s performance in the classroom and the grades they receive is a significant measurement of college success. On a daily basis, students are required to do high-level reading, writing, math and science assignments, along with giving presentations, conducting research and taking tests. Homework and test prep can seem overwhelming. Areas for assistance include improving study skills, working on academic habits and learning how to tap into available resources.

School Community

Whether on campus or online, students want to be part of the greater school community and all that that has to offer. Making friends with classmates, feeling connected to professors and working with staff play a big part in giving students a sense of belonging — increasing their ability to persist and succeed. Understanding the institution’s policies and procedures — such as registering for classes, drop dates and attendance requirements — is another important factor.

Commitment to Graduation

A student selects your college or university for a reason — an end goal of earning a degree, moving on to another school, or securing education credits for other reasons. What does graduation look like for each individual student? Do they have a network of friends, family and mentors to support their vision of success? What’s the connection between current actions and long-term goals? Commitment to graduation can be a powerful motivator.


Earning a degree is a means to an end for students looking to start, change or advance their career. Understanding their short- and long-term career goals is key to understanding their motivation and how school fits into the picture. Areas of focus include mapping a career path, skills and strengths assessment, resume development, interview preparation, networking and internships, as well as job application searching and strategy.

Managing Commitments

Students today — whether traditional or adult — have full lives that extend well beyond the classroom. Being able to manage the rigors of higher education, along with work, family, military, community and other obligations, often defines how successful they will be in school. For adult students in particular, this is one of the main reasons they don’t complete their degrees. Time management, task prioritization and balance are skills to be worked on in this area.


Finances frequently play a key role in a student’s ability to succeed in school and persist to graduation. Either students encounter problems with financial aid or they are unable to effectively manage their personal finances. Working with students to help them gain more control over their financial situation can bolster their chances of success. Financial challenges need to be proactively handled. By the time finances become a problem, it’s often too late to fix it.

Health & Support

Students who take good care of their health tend to be more effective and more thoroughly enjoy their time in school. Having a personal support network of friends, family and groups is an important factor in student success. Maintaining mental health is equally important. A deficit in any aspect of health and wellness — such as adequate sleep, nutrition, managing stress and emotional health — will take its toll on learning. Focusing on health has great payoffs.


When a student has a high level of effectiveness, they know what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how they’re going to get it done. Students who are ineffective, however, tend to forget things, miss deadlines and lose track of important to-dos. Working with students to develop confidence, communication skills, increased level of awareness and an ability to work toward long-term goals can all increase effectiveness. Developing calendar and reminder systems help too.

Downloadable resource you can use right now:

The Focus Wheel is an assessment tool that helps you understand your students holistically in eight key areas that impact their success.

Watch the focus wheel in action

This video series gives you insights on how the focus wheel can help you support the whole student. InsideTrack Student Support Specialists and Coaches provide expertise on how institutions can best support students during the shift to online learning.

Check out the video series

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