Stories of Student Success

How three students overcame the odds — and the pandemic — to succeed

From campuses closing overnight and courses moving online to cancelled athletics and virtual graduations, the coronavirus has had a major impact on higher education in just a few short months. With that in mind, we asked our coaches to share a few stories that showcase traits like innovation, persistence, adaptability and hope. For anyone wondering what kind of impact coaching can have on students, this is the story for you.

From worst-case scenario to best semester yet

Jade had serious challenges with online classes — including an online math class that was not set up well. As a result, she specifically built her schedule around courses that were given in-person on campus. This worked well — until Covid-19 forced all of her classes online. Her past struggles with online learning quickly surfaced and she panicked. Not only was she taking some of the toughest courses she’d ever taken, but now they were all moving online, literally overnight.

“She told me she can’t do well with online classes,” remembers her InsideTrack Coach, Taylor Jabour. “We started by taking the time to identify the challenges she faced before with online classes and potential new challenges the pandemic might introduce to the situation. Then we spoke about her past success, her strengths, and the growth she’s had over the past couple of years.”

Next, they created a plan. “We started with time management, which included ways of scheduling her time, understanding how to prioritize assignments when deadlines are vague, and learning how to shift priorities as progress is made toward finishing assignments.”

Finally, they focused on preparing for different online learning options. Some classes might be recorded and posted online, while others are held live via a program like Zoom. Sometimes the class might be a lecture, while others could be reading several chapters and responding to a written prompt. Check-ins centered around motivation, progress and managing any new challenges as they cropped up.

“Coaching helps students unlock their true potential. Jade had this inside her all along.” —  Coach Taylor Jabour

In the end, not only did Jade thrive, she achieved her highest-to-date GPA and made the Dean’s List at a highly competitive four year university. Through coaching, Jade was able to realize and utilize her strengths, stay motivated and give her best effort week after week.

When one door closes, another opens

Linda graduated high school early so she could begin her nursing program this spring. Then came coronavirus and the program was cancelled. “After working so hard toward this goal, I felt lost. It was like I had the rug ripped out from under me,” she said. Linda’s mom told her about a new medical assistant program that was sponsored by her union. Linda was able to enroll in the program and is “thrilled” to be able to get trained in a healthcare field while taking advantage of this tuition-funded program. “My long term goal is to be a nurse, But I know the medical assistant program is a huge stepping stone in the right direction.”

Linda’s medical assistant program is part of an innovative education-to-work model run by Futuro Health — an organization committed to growing the largest network of credentialed allied healthcare workers. To help them as they go through school, students receive enrollment and retention coaching from InsideTrack. Linda’s coach, Shirley Grover, is proud of the way Linda was able to turn disappointment into success. “She started her pre-requisite Anatomy & Physiology course several weeks ago and is thriving.”

Shifting the perspective

Caleb had everything on the line. The dean of his nursing program let him know that if he didn’t get a grade higher than a 75% in his Medical-Surgical Nursing course, he wouldn’t be allowed to continue in the program. Facing a daunting and uncertain future, Caleb reached out to his InsideTrack Coach, Emilia Gilroy-Sander. “He told me that he had come too far to take a withdrawal, even though there were only three-and-a-half weeks left in the term,” she says. That’s when it was time to use the GROW framework.

GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and What’s next. “The goal was to earn a grade of 75% and pass the course, allowing him to remain in the nursing program. The reality was that his current grade was at 66%, so passing was something he could achieve. This was a shifting point. Once he realized that reaching the 75% goal was doable, he shifted to a growth mindset where he sees his challenges in the class and is able to see those challenges as learning. Then it was what’s next — and what are the concrete next steps he can take to earn a passing grade.”

With that, Caleb buckled down, continued to try new strategies and used every resource he could to achieve his goal. The result? “I got a text from Caleb letting me know he PASSED his course! He gets to continue on in his nursing program and keep making progress toward his goal of being the first person in his family to graduate from college.”

“After every coaching meeting with Caleb this term, I was inspired by his attitude.” —  Coach Emilia Gilroy-Sander

“I truly believe that students can and will succeed,” says Emilia. “It’s human to feel like you’re a failure when you get a bad grade or harsh feedback from your instructor about a paper. As a coach, that’s why it’s important to remind our students that they are not failures. People don’t fail. The plans can fail them. For the student, it’s about shifting perspective and realizing that with a new plan, a new strategy, I can try again and this time I can make it happen. And in Caleb’s case, it paid off.”

Caleb was partway through his next term when Covid-19 hit and everything switched to online. It wasn’t easy — and Caleb had to once again re-think his strategies to be successful as the course design shifted — but he successfully completed the term. He has the summer off from school, then will wrap up his final nursing program courses in the fall.

*Student names have been changed.

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