What is Academic Coaching?
Academic Coaching is a working partnership that focuses on the ‘process of learning.' Together with a professional coach, students examine their learning styles, habits of working, and current difficulties or barriers to success. Then together this team (coach and student) works to create and put in place more effective strategies than are the norm. The aim is to heighten awareness of what it takes to achieve academic success and anchor this with new strategies, a supportive relationship, and personal accountability.
An important component of academic coaching is helping students understand how their ‘use of time’ and ‘levels of organization or disorganization’ (paper, space, and technological data) impact their studies. This is important because with stress and nervousness it is easy for all of us to spin our wheels and accomplish less. And in the process, living spaces, backpacks, and minds become less ordered so that finding what we need when we need it is faulty, such as retrieving information studied when needed for tests. In coaching, it can also be important to examine and fortify some ‘study skills,’ such as: Reading for comprehension, developing a successful writing process, taking and reviewing notes, preparing for tests with every class and each bit of reading, and managing the test taking process.
Another important aspect of academic coaching relates to ‘strategic thinking, problem solving, and learning to work effectively with others’. This area of focus can be especially useful when major problems surface and at times of major adjustment, such as:
Knowing how to function effectively in high school only to find that the fast pace and competition for grades in college requires much more or
Moving from undergraduate work into a graduate program where the expectations and levels of engagement are higher or
Finding it hard to adjust to dissertation work where levels of independence and self-paced research and writing are less structured than coursework and preliminary exams were and where the expectations of an advisor seem to be greater
Why is Academic Coaching Important?
Students at the University of Michigan (U-M) are bright. Some have been bright enough that they could be somewhat passive and still do well in high schools, preparatory academies, and even in their earlier undergraduate work. But the structure of these programs may have allowed this to work – meeting with the same instructors each day or many days a week for continual reinforcement of what was to be learned, having reminders of the need to complete work, being able to do some work in class, and getting personal assistance before, during, or after class. And if students lived at home, many requirements of daily life (doing laundry, food prep, washing dishes, making doctor’s appointments, and more) were often taken care of by others, especially when crunch time of paper deadlines and tests were near. Parents most likely also questioned what homework needed to be done and reinforced time for study.
Moreover, the pace/speed at which course content is covered at universities like the U-M is much faster than in high schools and some other undergraduate programs. Reading and learning outside of class is thought to be background for what is then to be covered in the classroom. Testing covers both what students learn independently and what is covered in classes. And information cannot simply be memorized because most testing asks students to apply everything they have learned to solve new and unique problems and to do it with reasonable ease and under the pressure of time. In addition, the competition for grades is steep by comparison.
Mentoring, at its core, guarantees that there is an expert coach standing by the Pre-Med student thru the 4 years of undergrad.
It assures the student that him or her is not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges.
Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on college students in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations.