An academic environment should serve as a place for young minds to flourish. Sometimes though, students can become distracted, lose sight of what is essential, and ultimately jeopardize their academic careers.
Research shows that just in one year, 1.2 million students drop out of school in the United States. Those who no longer attend high school will make $200,000 less than someone who has earned a GED. Students who live below the poverty level, in underprivileged communities, or in unstable households pose a higher risk of not succeeding academically.
When first-year students do have the opportunity to attend a four-year university and are not fully prepared to manage their time, studies, and finances, dropping out can come at a considerable cost. Students who drop out within their first semester of college will more than likely be stuck with a school loan, debt accrued from living expenses, and have delayed the process of reaching their educational goals.
Student pitfalls, if recognized early on, can be managed and ultimately resolved.
Let’s explore some common student pitfalls and what student success coaches can do to help students navigate or overcome them:
Studies have proven in recent years that procrastination is intentional. Procrastination occurs in an academic setting for various reasons, including underestimating the time it takes to complete an assignment, underestimating a project’, or a student not possessing enough interest to complete a task. Procrastination, if it becomes habitual, can ruin a student’s study skills or work performance. As an academic advisor, you can help steer students away from these behaviors to save themselves from unnecessary stress and perform to the best of their ability. Time management skills can help students avoid procrastinating. Techniques such as encouraging students to schedule a specific time to solely work on a project, enhancing study skills turning off or silencing technological devices while working, and taking breaks when needed to avoid becoming overwhelmed can assist students on the path to academic success.
Student burnout can be a product of taking on too many classes and extracurricular activities. As a young adult, the desire to achieve academic success and maintain some social life can be immense. It is critical when you recognize the signs of student burnout, such as constant exhaustion, absence from lectures, or not meeting deadlines, that you encourage students to slow down and reevaluate what is truly important. As an academic coach, you can help prevent student burnout by scheduling a time to speak to the student and understand why they feel the need to take on so much. From there, both of you can form a game plan of what can be eliminated when moving forward.
The United States has one of the highest rates of obesity amongst young adults. The US also is one of the top countries whose inhabitants are the most sleep-deprived. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one out of three adults does not get enough sleep. Adolescent or young adult brains are still developing and can lead to bad habits later on if not nurtured. Experts say that if the body is taken care of, the mind will soon follow. Young people need to understand the significance of adequate exercise, sleep, and good nutrition. Failure to provide oneself with a sufficient amount of these can lead to a severe decline in physical and mental health. One vital measure you can inspire students to make towards remaining of sound mind and body is to have a strong self-care plan. A self-care plan involves having a routine that would benefit the mind, body, spirit, and heart—for example, taking 30 minutes per day to meditate.
Having a social life is deemed by many to be healthy and also encouraged. When does having too much social interaction become an issue, though? Some red flags to look out for include: a decline in school performance, poor grades, not meeting school deadlines for projects, or not turning in assignments altogether. These are signs to motivate students to take a step back, learn time management skills, begin prioritizing academics again. Cutting back is not the same as cutting out. Cutting out all social activities may be a huge change and can worsen the situation for a student. Encourage students to attend social events at school once a month or every two weeks instead of completely refraining altogether. The idea is to have balance, not to go from one extreme to the next so they may enjoy their college experience.
When entering college, many first-year students are faced with being responsible for their finances. Unfortunately, many are not prepared to handle those finances. Money management skills are critical and need to be developed before attending college or entering the workforce. Advising students to adopt techniques, such as listing expenses, budgeting for those expenses, and learning how to manage their financial aid, can help students save both money and stress. It is essential to have financial goals set in place as well. For example, should a new student who looks forward to graduating within four years take on a part-time job to help pay off their loans faster? Another example would be helping someone entering the workforce immediately after graduation to plan for building savings to buy a new car or a home later. Note that small goals are also encouraged first. When small achievements can be met, young adults see that bigger financial goals are attainable.
One of the most common reasons students do not take advantage of school resources is that they are not aware of them. Students can inform themselves of the available resources by taking measures such as asking their guidance counselors for information or inquiring what is explicitly included in their tuition. Many universities also have social media platforms to update students on current events taking place on campus. Some campus resources or services that students may have access to are free entertainment like concerts and plays, access to health services, options to study abroad, or student discounts. It’s crucial to direct new students to take advantage of the resources available to succeed academically and make the most out of their work or college experience.
PeopleKeys believes that every student should have the tools they need to tap into their greatest potential. The PeopleKeys' Scholastic Success Report can help students, educators, advisors, or an academic coach get on the same page and understand how to keep an individual on their path to success.