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Tips from a Professor About How to Rock College

Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Tina Kruse, College, Professor, College Professor, College Student, How to be a succesful college student, College Tips, College tips and tricks, What is a freshman seminar, successful first-year students, college prep, College Prep Podcast,Listen in to a college professor talk about what skills make for a successful college student!

Special guest Tina Kruse shares what she’s learned from 15 years teaching freshman seminars at a small liberal arts college, including:

  • What is a Freshman Seminar, and why might you want to look for a college that has them?
  • What do the most successful first-year students do? Conversely, what are common problems that first-year students encounter?
  • What can students do while in high school to prep for what college is “really like”? How can parents, teachers, coaches help support that?
  • What do leadership experiences in high school get you (besides an impressive addition to your college application!)?
  • And more!

Note: During this episode, Tina refers to the following resource: High Impact Educational Practices. Check it out!

Tina Kruse is an Educational Psychologist (Ph.D.) with 15 years of experience teaching undergraduates. Her research is on the benefits of youth leadership experiences, with a forthcoming book on this topic (Oxford University Press, 2018). In addition to her long-term teaching and advising at a liberal arts college (Macalester College in St. Paul MN), she also offers private, one-on-one academic coaching to students ranging from high-school to graduate school. Recently she’s been charged with starting a campus-wide plan to support her college’s students to integrate better their learning settings–helping them connect the classroom efforts with their off-campus experiences such as internships and study abroad. You can find out more about Tina’s work at www.tinakruse.com

Please Note:  In this podcast recording Tina Kruse is representing her work as described at www.tinakruse.com and is not representing Macalester College.

Listen in to Megan and Gretchen with guest speaker Tina Kruse as they discuss how to Rock College and be a successful college student!

Parents, Do You Go Crazy Checking Your Kid’s Grades?

I know a lot of parents who have a nervous tick — they just have to check their kid’s grades in the online system to make sure that they’re doing ok. Many parents do this on a weekly (or even hourly!) basis. I call it a “nervous tick” for a few reasons — first, parents do it without thinking, and secondly, they end up being quite anxious afterward (the word “nervous” is so accurate!).

Also, and perhaps more importantly, the parent’s anxiety can get transferred to the student. This is what happened recently with a client of mine. Watch the video to hear what the client requested of his mom and me, and the interesting little experiment we’re going to do for 3 weeks.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with a short summary:

This video is for you parents out there today! I just finished having a conversation with a student, a sophomore in High School, and one of the things we do each week is check his grades to see what zeros are there, why work is missing, and work on build habits to deal with these missing assignments. The problem here is that not only do I ask him about his grades, but then his mom asks him about his grades, and he said to me, “I’m tired of it, I’m tired all I’m doing is talking about my grades. I just want to talk to you Gretchen about them.” So we decided since I was going on vacation before this video was recorded, to do a little experiment for 3 weeks. We gave his mom two options:

Gretchen Wegner, Anxiety, Grades, Students, Parents, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying,

After I talked with the mom, she said, “Oh my god, it would bring me such joy to not check grades.” So she said she just wouldn’t check the grades. We’ll see if she can follow through, cause it can be such a difficult task as a parent who is worried about student success. Regardless, I highly recommend that parents, you experiment with either not checking your students’ grades or set a date and only check the grades with the student. This way you aren’t jumping down your student’s back with all this anxiety about the grades and can talk about them in an anxiety-free zone.

So I hope you find this tip useful, and if you’d like more tips like this one, please feel free to check out my online course.

Community Colleges, National Merit Scholarships, and Bad Teachers

Community Colleges, Community College, Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, National Merit Scholarships, Bad Teachers, Bad Teacher, Help, Q&A, University, UniversitiesYou’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! Join us as we discuss community colleges versus big name schools, getting national merit scholarships, and dealing with bad teachers.

Here are the questions Megan and Gretchen tackle on today’s Q&A show:

  1. COMMUNITY COLLEGE VS. BIG NAME SCHOOL. Our son has been accepted to Engineering programs at Baylor, A&M Galveston and Ole Miss. However, his first choice, UT on Friday confirmed Cap program only which would be UTSA and transfer only guaranteed into Liberal Arts. As you may recall, the full college experience including D1 sports, fraternities, etc was all on his list. However, he is now talking to two other young men from his high school about Austin Community College. We’re reaching out to several people for their thoughts and expertise. In your opinion what is his best option? From Jackie.
  2.  SUBSCRIBE TO PODCAST. How would we subscribe to your podcast if we do not use apple devices? Answer: Listen from right here in our websiteStitcher,  Overcast, or Google Play Music
  3. NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS. I’m working with a small private school in my area and wanted your input on how we can best support our students for next year’s National Merit scholarships. I analyzed the results of the 10th-grade class PSAT results and this is what I found: – 41 students took the test – 2 students tied a score of 1300 – 3 students scored higher with a 1310, 1340 and 1400 points. I want to “target” some of these students and suggest they work to possibly qualify for National Merit. What scores do you think might have a chance?
  4. WHAT TO DO ABOUT A BAD TEACHER: My English teacher legit spends the majority of class talking about things that aren’t relevant. (I.E. She’ll talk about her son in the Navy instead of whatever book we’re reading at the time). The other day we were given the assignment to write a thematic essay based on the movie “I am David,” and she decided to give us some free time to work on it on our own. Well, a few kids got done early and began talking amongst themselves, and my teacher completely flipped out! She made the whole class start over! Those of us who hadn’t finished, but had gotten a good chunk done had to turn it in and re-write it with a different thesis and everything. This teacher has been teaching at my school for more years than I care to count and has received a couple “teacher of the year” awards – though I can’t imagine why. I get all A’s and B’s, but I have a solid D in her class – as does everyone else I’ve asked. I’ve tried talking to my school counselor about it – as have a few others – but whenever the administrators come in to monitor the class the teacher will give us an assignment to work on while she talks to them about their families and such. I got a letter home the other day from the principal getting angry at me for “disrupting the class” when I refused to listen to her about her son’s week aboard the SS I-couldn’t-care-if-I-tried for the umpteenth time and tried to work on my essay instead. What am I supposed to do?

Listen in to Megan and Gretchen with guest speaker Debbie Lehr-Lee as they discuss how to grow a thriving Academic Life Coaching business.

How to Find the Theme of a Book Quickly So You Can Write That Essay Already!

Does your heart sink when you notice that the essay prompt asks you to find the “theme” or the “purpose” of the book you’re reading? Do you often think to yourself, “I have no idea!!” and then BS your way through the essay?

Well, I have a hint for you! Of course, the best line of defense is to listen during discussions in class, take good notes, and also talk to your teacher. But if none of that helps, this trick will take you the rest of the way. And who knows, maybe what feels like BS might be pretty smart stuff after all!?

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

I received an email earlier this week from a senior in high school that was having a difficult time with a prompt she received in an AP English class. She needed to find the purpose of a novel so she could write an essay about it. Another way we can look at this is: What is the theme, or meaning, of the novel?

How to Find the Theme of a Book Quickly, Gretchen Wegner, Essay Writing, Purpose, Meaning

So I wanted to give you all a little trick I use with my clients. See when I’m coaching I have very little time to help a student push through work on their essay, so I have to make quick decisions how to help a student find the theme or purpose of a book when I haven’t read it myself. As such I’ve developed a bit of a trick. I like to use a list from the Center for NonViolent Communication that’s called the Needs Inventory.

Universal Needs Inventory, The Center for Nonviolent Communication, Gretchen Wegner, How to Find the Theme of a Book, Purpose, Meaning, Essay Writing,

What I have found is that it can be really helpful to look over this list with a student and ask, “What are the universal needs that are represented by the characters in this book?” For example, is there a need for order because things are really chaotic, and the characters are trying to create order but it’s really hard. I’ve found that students can pretty easily find 1, 2, or 3 needs that are really active in the book, and then find concrete evidence why those needs are a big deal in the book and how it plays out for the characters. Then you can use this to write an essay about how the theme or purpose of the book was about “insert universal need here”.

If you found this tip useful and you’d like more tips for writing essays or understanding the theme or purpose of books, click here!

How to Grow a Thriving Academic Life Coaching Biz

Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Debbie Lehr-Lee, Anti-Boring Approach, Coach Training, Academic Life Coach, Academic Life CoachingWhat’s it like to build a successful business as an academic life coach?

Guest Debbie Lehr-Lee shares the ups and downs about her path, including how Gretchen’s Anti-Boring Approach Coach training helped her go from 4 clients to a thriving a practice.

Together Gretchen and Debbie discuss:

  • What frustrations Debbie was experiencing when she first reached out to get trained by Gretchen
  • How her business has grown since then, including how Debbie created a unique niche for herself
  • How her work helps students feel less broken, and why that’s such a crucial first step
  • The importance of understanding the role that technology plays — good and bad! — in teens’ lives
  • How to decide what kind of academic life coach training program to participate in
  • What makes Gretchen’s Anti-Boring Approach Coach Training Program unique, and how listeners might discern whether this program is a good use of their time and resources
  • and more!

Here is the free resource that Debbie mentioned in the podcast — a workbook to accompany the documentary Screenagers.

Debbie Lehr-Lee is an academic life coach passionate about helping high school and college students develop key academic and life skills (that are often not taught in school) so that they can be successful in academics but also be prepared for college and the real world. She is a certified Life Coach (CPC) from the world-class Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), a certified Academic Life Coach from John Andrew Williams Academic Life Coaching program, and has completed Gretchen Wegner’s Anti-Boring Approach Coach Training Program. Visit her website at www.unstoppablestudents.com

Listen in to Megan and Gretchen with guest speaker Debbie Lehr-Lee as they discuss how to grow a thriving Academic Life Coaching business.

How to Feel More Confident As a Student

Are you the kind of student who does OK at school? Parents and teachers sometimes nudge you, telling you that you’re not quite living up to your potential because your grades could be even higher than the B’s they are now?

I have a client like that who was tired of feeling that he could probably perform even better at school if he were only more motivated. We worked together for a quick eight sessions — and then he took his final exams. Voila! What he told me amazed me, and shows that just a few skills can make some major changes in a student’s self-esteem. Watch the video, where I tell you the full story of this client and what he discovered.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? Don’t worry I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

I’ve been trying a little experiment that I want to tell you all about. I have a few clients who may have a learning disability of some sort but are extremely high functioning. They average decent grades, typically B’s but A’s as well sometimes. The reason they come to me, especially the client I am focusing on in this video, is that he and his family felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential in school. He said that he didn’t feel motivated to put in a lot of effort and that he felt he could be more motivated, but he wasn’t sure how to get there. So what him, his family, and I decided to do was to run him through The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying in only eight sessions, just to get him setup with the time management, organization, and studying skills he needed to be able to really give school his all.

At the time I recorded this video I’d just heard back from him, and for reference, he’s a junior in high school, about his final exams. Now in the past, he’s always just coasted through school, as we talked about above, and that included his exams. However, exams have always caused him anxiety as he’s felt he should be doing more but wasn’t sure exactly what to be doing to prepare for them, and lacking the motivation to do anything. This year, on the contrary, he said he went in feeling like he was ready and that he knew what he was doing. His confidence was a LOT higher this year around, now that he had the skills he needed to really put forth his best effort. And while his grades have only had minor improvements from the short time we’ve worked together, he told me,

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, How to Feel More Confident As a Student, Studying, Time Management, Confidence, Self-Esteem, Tools,

And that’s the important thing here. His confidence and self-esteem as a student have skyrocketed. With just a few short sessions and a handful of tools and skills he’s gone from “doing okay but having low self-esteem” to “doing okay with high self-esteem.” That’s what we, as teachers and parents, want for the children we love, to see them feel good about the hard work they put in.

So if you want to access these tools and skills for yourself, click here, and see how they might be able to change your life.

Tips for Attending a National College Fair

National College Fair, Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Student, High School, Parent, Attending a National College Fair with your high school student? We recently heard from a listener who had some questions about how to make the most of her National College Fair visit with her son. Here’s her email:

My son is attending a National College Fair coming up in mid-March. Do you have any strategies or ideas for best practices when attending a fair like this? There will be over 180 different colleges there from all over the country, so any suggestions on how to maximize time would be great.

Also, we have never attended a fair of this size before — can you give some suggestions for the role of a parent (hang back, listen, stay at the coffee shop?) and also some etiquette/protocol suggestions for the student. For example, how much time should they spend with a college booth, are their ways to be memorable for a student with a recruiter, if it’s a college they really love, should there be additional strategies to employ and should we leave anything with a recruiter like a resume or business card or is that too much?

Listen in to Megan and Gretchen discussing how to make the most of a National College Fair visit without getting overwhelmed.

Is Becoming An Academic Life Coach the Right Career Move For Me?

The Top 7 Questions to Ask Yourself to Decide Whether YOU Should Enter This Growing Field

Ten years ago when I first started doing this work, no one had heard of Academic Life Coaching; these days, more and more families are googling the phrase “academic coach” in their quest for support for their anxious, overwhelmed, and/or unmotivated students.

It’s an up-and-coming field, this academic life coaching thing, with bottomless need all over the country (and world!) as far as I can tell. So it makes sense that YOU might be curious about whether this is work that you might like to do!

In this blog post, I’ll introduce you to exactly what academic life coaching is, and share seven reflective questions to ask yourself, to help you discern whether becoming an academic life coach is the right career move for you.

Let’s start by looking at what an exactly an academic life coach does.

An academic life coach works with the student 1:1 outside of the school setting. We help them de-stressify their lives and increase their effectiveness and confidence in their academics and in the rest of their lives, too.

More specifically, academic coaches help students learn strategies for time management, organization, effective studying, and self-advocacy. They also work on mindset, motivation, and goal setting and goal achievement.

Like a tutor, academic life coaches work with a student weekly throughout the semester. Unlike a tutor, who focuses on teaching a single content area, the academic life coach focuses on learning habits across all content areas, focusing on meta-cognition, habits, study routines and learning strategies to help the student troubleshoot his or her own learning. Often the strategies we put in place are useful across ALL subjects, and not just the specific subject that the student thinks they need support in.

What kinds of folks have the best success as academic life coaches?

The best academic life coaches love working with young people, especially teenagers. Perhaps this goes without saying. If you don’t have a special affinity for teenagers, this is probably not a line of work for you

But love for teens isn’t enough! It takes a certain kind of person to make it as an academic life coach. Here is a list of careers that most of the successful academic coaches I’ve met have transitioned from:

    • Current teachers who are leaving teaching because they’ve burned out or fully intend to keep on teaching until retirement, but would love a supplementary side income.
    • School counselors who have been disillusioned by the reality of their position, which includes more scheduling and less connecting deeply with students than they anticipated.
    • Retired educators who need to keep on earning money for 5-10 more years, and would like to do so in a creative, nurturing, less exhausting environment than a school.
    • Tutors who struggle to get families to pay decent hourly rates, and know that adding academic life coaching to their skill set can help them up their rates.
    • Parents who supported a struggling learner through school, and realize that they are good at this work and would like to continue working with other people’s kids. This includes homeschool parents, who have a lot of intimate contact with kiddos as learners.
    • Life coaches who have gotten clear that their perfect niche is students, but don’t know how to transition from life coaching to the specific requirements related to coaching teens.

Whether or not you identify as one of the folks above, I’m so glad you’re contemplating becoming an academic life coach! I want to help you discern whether this is the right career change for you.

The following seven questions will be helpful as you discern whether you’re ready to jump into this rewarding line of work. The first five questions center around issues related to the content and structure of the work; the second set of three questions will help you discern whether you can hack the unique challenges of self-employment.

Feel free to click on the questions that feel most relevant and interesting to you. Or, simply scroll down to read about each one of them in order.

  1. Am I passionate about learning and do I have a big enough toolbox of strategies to teach students?
  2. Am I comfortable with being improvisational, spontaneous, and not always having a plan?
  3. Am I willing to deal intimately with family dysfunction?
  4. Are you comfortable working with students who have learning differences and quirky brains?
  5. Do I want a part-time or a full-time business?
  6. Am I willing to invest time into marketing, even if it makes me uncomfortable?
  7. Do I have the external and internal support systems in place to deal with the inevitable uncertainty that comes with starting a business?

Here we go…!

THE NATURE OF COACHING

The first four questions have to do with the actual work of coaching students.

  1. Am I passionate about learning and do I have a big enough toolbox of strategies to teach students?

The most successful academic coaches I’ve seen are folks with a huge toolbox of specific strategies that help students. Not every student benefits from every strategy, so it’s important to have a toolbox that is so big that you and your client can pick and choose strategies until you find ones that work for them.  

This is important! I’ve seen many folks who are life coaches for teenagers who are great at getting students in touch with their own gifts, strengths, motivations, and goals, and uncovering mental blocks that keep them from achieving goals. That’s wonderful, but that’s not enough.

So many teenagers have simply never been taught some basic skills about how to be a good student. They NEED skills badly. And so academic life coaches should be equipped to teach these hard skills in the context of the other “soft skills” that they cover with students.

The most attractive and successful academic life coaches who have come through my Anti-Boring Approach Coach Training Program are passionate about learning, and LOVE to gather new tools and strategies to help students succeed. Their toolbox is CHOCK FULL of interesting tips and techniques for teaching students to study.

Typically, too, the best Academic Life Coaches love to learn and also love applying all the strategies and tools in their own lives. The more learning you do, the better you can share about how YOU are applying all these learning tools in your own life. That gives you a special cred with students.

  1. Am I comfortable with being improvisational, spontaneous, and not always having a plan?

Academic life coaching is an art and an improvisational art at that.

If you are someone who requires a set plan or curriculum and need to be advised exactly what to do when, if you don’t like surprises and need to stick to your plan in order to feel in control, then academic life coaching is not for you.

Let me give you some examples of academic life coaching sessions in action (at least, the way I practice them)

When a student shows up to their weekly session, the first 10 minutes of the session are spent getting an update. I often ask the following types of questions: How has their week been going? What tests, quizzes, projects, and assignments are coming up? Do they have any missing work? How are they doing emotionally?  What extracurricular activities are going to consume their time in the next week? What do their parents think they need to accomplish during the session, and does the student agree with this assessment?

Once you have answers to all these questions, then you decide (in collaboration with the student) what needs to happen during that session. Here are a few options:

  1. If they’ve been consistently turning in their math homework late,  you spend 20 minutes figuring out why and create some new routines and reminders to reverse this trend.
  2. If a new month-long project has been assigned, spend 40 minutes laying out a plan, putting it in the paper planner, and setting up digital alerts.
  3. If the student has no idea how to study, set aside the rest of the session to deliver what I call the “mini-lectures” about the brain, neural pathways, The Study Cycle, and basic learning theory. Then apply these mini-lectures to creating a study plan for an upcoming test.
  4. If the student is clearly upset, spend the session listening and helping them brainstorm self-care and self-regulation strategies.

These are a few of a kazillion options for what you might do during a typical coaching session.  

Keep in mind: You should be able and willing to improvise at the moment. But improv, after all, is creativity within a very clear structure! I don’t recommend being rigidly attached to a specific curriculum; I DO recommend having a standard set of routines that you do with students during sessions, as well as a clear set of principles, tools, and strategies that you intend to teach during your work with the students.

In my Anti-Boring Approach™ Coach training program, I teach educators about the most effective routines I’ve discovered to help glean the important information from your student as fast as possible, and make strong decisions about what the work of the session needs to be. There is a method to my madness, and it’s not totally freeform. I share more about these systems in my free course “Should I Become an Academic Life Coach?”

  1. Am I willing to deal intimately with the messy (and sometimes dysfunctional) realities of family life?

Have you heard the phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? In my experience, many teenagers with learning challenges and/or anxiety have parents with the same (often masked) challenges.

When you get the first inquiry call from a parent, usually the student is the is “identified patient.” The parent is reaching out because the student is overwhelmed and struggling, often filled with anxiety about school and super stressed out. The family is feeling the repercussions of this stress, too. If we fix the student’s habits, motivation and outlook, the family dynamic will be fixed too, right?

Of course, what many parents often fail to realize is that a certain percentage of the students’ stress is caused BY the parent (even though they perceive that the dynamic is reversed).

Perhaps the parent is overly anxious about their kid’s grades, working themselves into a tizzy by checking the grades on PowerSchool several times a day and freaking out with every new zero that appears. Other times the parent is ADD or ADHD themselves and so has difficulty providing enough structure and sustained attention for the student to feel held.

It can be very hard for parents to take an honest, up close look at their contribution to the student’s challenges and the family system.  And so they choose to stay focused on fixing their kid rather than changing their own behaviors and mindsets.

One of the joys of academic coaching is taking the burden of vigilance off of the parent so that they can focus on simply connecting with their kid rather than being the student’s administrative assistant. I also provide a lot of reassurance to parents. I’ve seen many an anxious parent calm down simply because I’ve provided a listening ear, and then told them, “Parenting is hard! This situation is hard. I see how much you care about your kid. You’re doing a good job navigating this.”

However, sometimes the family dysfunction runs deeper and is not easily solved with empathy or a quick intervention. I’m quite clear that as an academic life coach, I’m not a family therapist. Sometimes, I have to simply watch the family dysfunction playing out, and do my best to help the student take care of themselves in the midst of this situation*.  

If you are considering becoming an academic life coach, you need to be willing to work with the parents on some level, as well as to learn to establish solid boundaries so that you know where your work with the student and family begins and ends. In my training programs, I provide lots of tips and tricks for working with anxious parents.

*Note: I’m not talking about signs of abuse here. Of course, I would take more extreme action if I suspected this, though in my 10 years of coaching I’ve never encountered this extreme of a situation.

  1. Are you comfortable working with students who have learning differences and quirky brains?

Most of my clients either have some kind of (un)diagnosed learning difference or suffer from some kind of anxiety or depression.

Although it’s possible to be an academic life coach for neuro-typical students, you will have a much more successful business if you’re open and willing to work with students who have beautiful-and-quirky brains.

You do not need to be a learning disorder expert to be an academic life coach for students. However, you do need to be willing to read and learn about the nature of learning differences and how they impact a student’s executive functions. (If you don’t know the phrase “executive function,” hop on over to google and look it up. It’s super important that you’re familiar with this phrase if you’re planning on becoming an academic life coach).

You also need to be creative and patient and equip yourself with a huge toolbox of learning tools, so that you and the student can experiment about what tools will work best for them.

Luckily, students with diagnosed learning differences come with neuropsychological evaluations that include a super helpful list of doctor-provided recommendations, which provide a roadmap for your work with the student.

THE NATURE OF BUSINESS BUILDING

This second set of questions is all about the unique challenges of starting your own business, and whether that path is right for you.

  1. Do I want a part-time or a full-time business?

If you are considering just starting out as an academic life coach, by necessity your business will most likely be part-time at first. However, it’s good to have a bit of a plan in mind, to know what you’re shooting for regarding the intended size of your business.

To make a realistic plan it’s important to consider two things:

  1. Your schedule, and how many clients you can realistically fit in, and
  2. The amount of money you need or want to earn
  3. Where you plan to host sessions — your home, online, client’s homes, a cafe, etc.

Keep in mind that most academic coaching happens outside of school hours. If you are working with high school students, that means weekends and 3:30pm-9pm on weekdays.

If you have a full-time job and/or a family with young kids, this is a hard time to be working! But it’s not impossible. I know several coaches who have made a nice initial side business for themselves by working the following schedule:

  • 1-2 nights a week after school,  accepting 2-3 clients each night, and/or
  • 3-4 clients in a row on the weekend.

One consideration related to schedule is where  you will host the sessions. If you are driving to clients’ homes, you will be able to see fewer clients than if you see them at your home, at a cafe, or online. In the upcoming free course I’ll share more about what it’s like to have clients come to my home office, which is my preferred method.

Once you’re clear about how many client sessions your schedule will allow, then you get to decide whether this will bring in the money you need to make the business worthwhile.

In the example above, the coach will be maxed out at 9 clients/week (and realistically, they’ll probably only have the energy to work with 5-7 clients, if they’re also holding down a full-time job).

Let’s assume that you charge each client $1700/semester (a reasonable rate for a new coach). This means that your first full semester you have the potential to bring in approximately $10,000. If you can repeat these numbers the second semester, you’ve brought in $20,000/year (before taxes). Does this amount work for you and your family?

In my FREE COURSE, I reveal the various financial models that worked for me as I grew my business, starting with traveling to families homes and ending with what I do now — seeing students online and in my home office. I hope to see you in the free course; but first, grab a pencil and play around with a few possible schedules and the associated financial model.

Note: I suggested a package price here rather than an hourly fee. I’m a strong believer in using packages, and in my free course, I talk more about that.  For now, while you’re running the numbers, I recommend choosing a number between $1500-$2000 for your semester package prices.

  1. Am I willing to invest time into marketing, even if it makes me uncomfortable?

Once you’ve sketched out a basic business model for one-to-one coaching, you know how many clients you need to be able to attract every semester. Many clients do renew from one semester to the other, but many do not, and so it’s necessary to do ongoing marketing tasks to make sure that you are getting a steady stream of clients.

I wish I could tell you that there’s an easy formula for how many hours you need to spend on marketing tasks for every x clients you hope to attract. There’s not. However, it’s a good idea to factor in at least 1-2 hours of marketing tasks a week (or 4-8 hours of marketing tasks a month) to start and sustain your business.

Note: By “marketing” I don’t mean building a website and buying business cards. These tasks are NOT necessary to start your thriving side business.

Also, marketing does not have to look salesy and feel icky. It is very possible to fill your 1-2 hours of marketing tasks per week with fun, inspiring, interesting tasks that also attract new clients.

In both my free course and the paid training, we look much more closely at what marketing looks like in the field of academic life coaching. I aim to give you a recipe of actions you can take that both feel good and attract clients.

However, it’s important to be realistic: there will be some discomfort in marketing when you first start out.

Although the tasks I’ll share with you are actually fun and interesting, so many people are so frightened of the big monster named Marketing that they bring that fear with them. So part of being willing to start your own business is to face the Monster, realize it’s not as bad as you think, and then start having fun with the Monster instead. It really is possible!

  1. Do I have the external and internal support systems in place to deal with the inevitable uncertainty that comes with starting a business?

Let’s be real. Starting a business is emotionally grueling work.There’s no sugar coating this fact.

In the early days, it didn’t feel so hard, because I had another job to back me up. However, the minute I quit that job and committed to full-time self-employment, all my sh*t came to the surface. I had a huge fear of rejection. Because of this fear, I kept my fees lower than they should have been, said “yes” to too many clients who weren’t ideal for me (and who ended up consuming more than their fair share of my emotional bandwidth), and I was scared to reach out and create relationships with colleagues who I knew could ultimately help me with referrals.

And then there was this:  the financial feast or famine that often happens at the beginning of a business (especially when you’re trying it alone without getting adequate training). Until you learn your marketing and business building systems and have them completely in place, there is a lot of uncertainty, and this can be emotionally trying.

Please be clear whether you have the courage to face this uncertainty, and if you say “yes,” please also spend time making sure you have some great support systems in place so that you have others to lean on when things get hard.

Support systems can include family, friends, therapists, like-minded colleagues and group training programs (like my Anti-Boring Approach™ Coach Training Program).

A Perfectionist’s Guide to Getting Unstuck

Are you a perfectionist? Many of my clients are! They often don’t seem like they are perfectionists because they often procrastinate and don’t turn work in on time. But they are!

Check out this video, where I tell the story of a high school freshman, and how he and I are working to figure out how to identify the signs of stuckness, so he can get help sooner rather than later. This might seem like a straightforward task, but to a student with ADD who struggles with executive functions and awareness about his own actions, it can be really hard to identify you’re stuck in the first place!

List in to find out more about what we discovered together during our last session.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

I’m curious if this is applicable to you. Do you spend to much time working on things? Do you procrastinate because you want to make sure things are done perfectly? And then when you do get started you obsess and dwell on sentences and paragraphs and you find you can’t move forward, and suddenly the evening is over without you being able to finish your homework, and now you’ll have to turn it in late. This perfectly describes one of my clients, a freshman in high school. In our most recent session, we had an interesting chat. He was working on a research project, which we had already talked through in the previous session, and he had found himself once again spiraling down into perfectionism. Instead of following the plan we had hammered out in the previous session, he was caught up in a variety of different topics that he thought connected and he wanted to include in the essay. He was stuck like this for about an hour. Then he realized he was completely off-topic and had wasted a huge chunk of time. So this last session we were talking about the signs of when he is stuck, and what to do about it.

Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | Perfectionist | Perfectionism | Student | Homework | Essay |

For him, he knows he is stuck if one of the above 3 things are happening. If he finds he’s deleting things over and over, staying in one place for too long, or if he finds himself “in the flow” – which is what happened to him this last week. Once he identifies that he’s stuck, he should go and get help, whether that’s talking to his parents, texting me, talking with a friend, or just talking it out with someone. The beauty of this, as he realized this last week, is that when you talk to someone and talk out what you are stuck on, you often will find yourself realizing the answer to your problem. That’s why I always encourage my clients, “When in doubt, reach out.”

If this tip was helpful to you and you’d like others, make sure to check out my course, which has a variety of tips for people with all kinds of problems, whether you are a perfectionist, or just find yourself sidetracked a lot. Click here to learn more.

Life-Threatening Allergies and How to Choose An Allergy-Savvy College

College, Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Allergy, Allergies, Monica Randall PH.D, University, College Prep Podcast, If your child has a life-threatening allergy, you know how important it is to find a college that cares, and has specific policies in place to make sure your kiddo is taken care of.

Join guest expert Monica Randall PH.D as she helps explain how to make sure the colleges you’re considering are allergy-friendly. As a mother of a student with severe allergies and a college admissions expert, she’s uniquely qualified to help you navigate keeping your student healthy when they go off to school. 

Together with Gretchen and Megan, she discusses:

  • things university administrators are doing to be allergy-savvy
  • what to look for on your college visit, and how to analyze the “health fit” of the the schools you’re considering
  • how to help students with allergies develop self-advocacy skills before they go off to college
  • concerns related to roommates, peers, and social lives of college students,
  • and more

Dr. Monica E. Randall is the nation’s leading college admissions experts for students living with food allergies.   With over 25 years of experience in higher education, she has insider’s knowledge about college admissions, financial aid policies, and food allergy management practices on college campuses.   She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association. She earned a PhD from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where she conducted extensive research on financial aid and student success. She received both a Master of Arts in International Affairs and a Master of Public Administration from Ohio University. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia.   She lives in Maryland with her amazing husband, a beautiful daughter, and a spirited dog. You can find out more about Dr. Monica Randall and her upcoming courses on her website

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

A Destructive Myth That Makes Students Miserable

Hey there, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do at school? Does it feel impossible to do it all alone?

This is a video I made last summer, but it’s just as relevant as ever. I’ve seen TOO MANY of my clients buckle under the stress of thinking they have to do school by themselves. That your work doesn’t count unless you accomplish it all by yourself.

This is a destructive myth! And it’s unrealistic, too. Watch the video to hear more.

Hey there, don’t have time to watch the whole video? Don’t worry; I’ve got your back, here’s a summary.

One of the biggest and most DESTRUCTIVE myths in our education system is that people must do everything themselves. I have a friend and client who’s a grad student, and she’s doing a presentation on some research she did in a recent class. We were talking, and she said, “I’ve been discouraged, though, (she was sick the previous week) since I fell so far behind, but this morning I met with a profession on campus who gave me lots of great ideas and feedback I want to incorporate. […] I get overwhelmed at how to incorporate and communicate all my ideas. […] I’m glad this woman was a resource that I could use, though. Basically, I can’t write these alone, which is kind of discouraging, but good to know.”

She was feeling discouraged that she couldn’t do it alone, but that’s the myth. Think about this: Professors have their undergrads helping them, researchers have their teams, and authors have editors. If the professionals have assistance, why should students feel they must work alone? As I told her, you don’t have to. Don’t fall prey to this destructive myth. You can always ask your professors, or teachers, or parents, or friends for some help. You can revel in the community, and enjoy the help and insight of a team of people rooting for you as the spokesperson for your ideas.

Q&A: Math Mistakes, Gap Years, Distracted Studying & More

Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | College Prep Podcast | Q&A | Q/A | Math | GAP Years | Scholarships | Early Action school | Studying | Study | Universities | Communication |

It’s another Q&A Show! Here are the questions that we tackle in this episode:

1. Weird Mistakes in Math. My math teacher is a little confusing, which gets me doing weird things that complicate matters on simple problems. Mom thinks it could be that I’m making it complicated in my head, and I can see that, but I don’t know exactly. Thanks for the offer, and I think I’ll try it, ~ Ella, Middle School Student

2. Gap Years and Scholarships. I have been a fan for years and really appreciate your podcast. My daughter is a senior, and she was accepted to her highly selective Early Action school, so things are looking good and the pressure is off! Now we’re waiting for the other schools to respond from the regular decision round. My question is about applying for scholarships when you are planning to take a gap year. My daughter has not told any of her schools that she is planning to take a gap year, but she will ask the ones that she is deciding between if it’s OK after she has all of her acceptances. We already know that the Early Action school is a very pro-gap year and I think the others will be fine with it too, they’re all private liberal arts schools. As she’s been looking into scholarships, she has found that they all apply to students who are going to start college this fall. So, if she applied and received one of these scholarships, would she then have to tell them she’s taking a gap year and then have to re-apply for it next year? If so, there’s no point in going through that, and maybe she should just wait to apply for scholarships next year.

3. Distraction When Studying. I got distracted every time I sit to study. I need some suggestions. ~Aish

4. Sports Communication. I have heard you mention in 2 previous podcasts that you have a student you are working with that is interested in Sports Communication. My son Sam is a junior, and he is interested in Communication, sports or political journalism or broadcasting, and we are also in Texas. He is homeschooled, and we do not have a high school counselor. I would love to know any helpful information you have found for this student and what this field looks like regarding universities, especially in Texas.

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

How to Make Time Visible… and Feel Less Anxious Too

All too often, the teens with whom I meet tell me, “Oh, I don’t have much to do. I can remember it all in my head.”

Sometimes that’s true! But more often, we discover that they DON’T have their “to do list” as down as they think they do.

In this video, I share a story about a client who recently gave me this line, how I handled it, and what he discovered in the process!

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

With the start of the new semester, a client I’ve been working with a couple of years now was telling me how he was sure that this year he didn’t need to get any time management systems going again this year. So I shared some brain facts I have in my Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying and then I asked him, given the facts I shared and how the working memory needs things to be as clean and clear as possible if he’d be up for just practicing a planner to make time visible. So we devised a time tracking sheet that worked for him.

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

After we created this blank chart, which we called the week sheet, he looked up everything he needed to do and what he needed to take care. After a little bit and it was all mapped out, some of which he needed to my help to be reminded of – mainly the major due dates for the future – I asked him, “How does it feel now that we’ve put all of this out there?”

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

His response, I felt, was absolutely amazing. He said, “Before it felt fine, but now it feels better. I couldn’t actually tell how much anxiety I was feeling before, but now that we have it all mapped out in that chart, I don’t have to struggle to remember anything anymore and I didn’t realize that was causing me anxiety, but now that I feel better I realize it was.” I thought that was so smart of him, as a junior in high school, to be able to articulate that kind of understanding of his experience.

If you want more tips to reduce anxiety or time management, then I have tons of them in the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, which you can learn more about by clicking here.

3 Tips to Make Worksheets More Than Just “Busy Work”

3 Tips to Make Worksheets More Than Just "Busy Work" | Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | College Prep PodcastWorksheets may seem like useless “busy work,” especially to bored students.

But actually, they are great tools to help you score well on tests if you use them in the right way.

Tune in to find out more about how to:

  • Be less bored when filling out worksheets
  • Turn worksheets into quizzable study tools so that you can better prep for tests
  • Make sure you’re answering all the questions correctly so that you can…
  • Use your worksheet as a quizzable study tool,
  • and more!

Learning how to maximize worksheets as a learning tool is an underutilized habit for both students and teachers alike, which makes this a particularly important episode. Click here to listen to this episode!

An Essential Daily Routine For Students

Do you ever get started on your homework and realize you have NO IDEA how to do the assignment?

This happened recently to a client of mine, and it caused him to lose points because he ended up turning the assignment in late. For students with ADD and other attentional difficulties, missing one assignment can snowball out of control. So it’s important to find routines that ensure that NOTHING gets in the way of turning work in on time.

Check out this video to find out more details about the new daily routine my client discovered he needs.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

It’s a new semester and one of my clients, a junior in high school, just had his first late assignment. He said he turned in an assignment a day late, and while he did get it turned it, he lost points. So I asked him, “why did this happen? What occurred that you ended up turning this in late?” Evidently, he had left the classroom before reading over the assignment and so when he got home he realized he didn’t know how to do it. So he had to wait until the next day to ask the teacher how to do it, even though it was due that day. I then asked him, “what was the lesson here?” to which he gave me a great response:

Gretchen Wenger | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying Online | Assignements | Daily Routine | Time Management |

Any student, whether you are in high school, college, university, or some other level of education, can benefit from developing this daily routine. I promise that if you look over all assignments and actually think about what you’ll need to do to complete them before leaving the teacher’s presence, you will solve a lot of your time management woes.

If you want to learn more time management tips, or other great habits, then I encourage you to check out my course by clicking here.

Time Saving Homework Tips, Admissions Deadlines, & Early Decision – Q&A

Time Saving Homework Tips | Admissions Deadlines | Early Decision | Q&A | Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | ACT Test | Universities | CollegeYou’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers!

On today’s Q&A show, learn about how to make online textbook reading less time consuming, what to do once you’ve been accepted via early decision, and whether there’s wiggle room to submit another ACT test after the admissions deadline.

Here are the questions to which we responded:

  1. My daughter applied to a couple of universities with Jan 1 admissions deadlines. We still don’t think her ACT score is strong enough for some of these schools. Can she take the February ACT and send those scores? Will that help?
  2. I am an online college student getting a business degree. How much time would you say someone should spend reading their textbook? Before doing their homework. Finding it really hard to read all of the chapters and get the homework done any ideas?
  3. My son was accepted, early decision, at his top choice university. Yea!!! What do we need to do now?

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

How to Prep for an Essay When You Don’t Know the Prompt

Argh! It’s annoying having to prep for timed essays when you don’t know the prompt, isn’t it?

Recently I got this GREAT question from a student who stumbled across my videos on YouTube:

A junior in college named Yaya asked, “I have a timed essay coming up in January and don’t know the prompt. However, I do have the readings which are 4 different articles, and all kinda surround Angela Duckworth’s idea of Grit. Any ideas on how I can prepare for such essay??”

Yes! I DO have an idea. Watch the video for my complete answer to Yaya.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

The problem we’re looking at this week is how do you prepare for an essay when you don’t know what the prompt will be? For Yaya, this was causing her stress, and that’s completely understandable, after all, how do you prepare for something when you don’t know what you’re preparing for?

Well, the first thing we can do is look at the 4 articles she was assigned to read. We can note that they all revolve around Grit, and there are some themes we can see right away just from reading the subtitles, such as “The limits of grit”, “Is grit overrated?”, “how grit helps with perseverance and passion for long-term goals”, etc. So when you start reading you should be looking for these themes and marking down stuff like, when is their passion showing up, what are some limits to grit, when are long-term goals brought up, etc.
Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | How to Prepare for an Essay When You Don't Know the Prompt | Essays | Writing | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching

Then I’d create a chart like the one above. I’d list each of the readings and the themes, and I’d annotate every time I found the themes and I’d fill out the boxes. This way, I have a good understanding of the building blocks of each of these articles. Once you understand the core themes of the articles you should be very well prepared to write any essay on these readings.

An added step you could take is to consider or ask others, what some potential essay prompts from these articles could be, and then practice making an outline for them. Just from reading the titles and the subject matter, I could make an educated guess that one potential prompt they would give you is, “Analyze Grit, is it a good thing? If so why or why not?”

I hope this is helpful to you all, and if you want more tips like this, click here to check out my course which has a lot of tips for preparing for essays.

Lesser Known Tests for College Admissions

Lesser Known Tests for College Admission | Megan Dorsey | Gretchen Wegner | ACT | SAT | College AdmissionsDid you know that there are more college admissions tests than just the ACT and SAT?

Some of these replace the ACT/SAT, and some of them are required in addition to these tests. During this episode, Megan walks us through all the lesser known college admissions tests.

She starts by reading us New York University’s unique admissions testing policy that allow students to submit other tests in place of the ACT and SAT.

We then discuss:

  • The General Education Development (GED) as an alternative to a high school diploma
  • The International Baccalaureate  and Advanced Placement tests as replacements and/or additions to the ACT and SAT
  • How to use the SAT subject tests strategically to enhance your application
  • The importance of paying attention to local state requirements for what testing is allowed,
  • How to plan in advance based on the requirements of individual colleges you might consider,
  • The “catch” when it comes to replacing ACT/SAT with these lesser known tests,
  • And more!

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

Every Student, Teacher, And Parent Should Memorize This ASAP

Hey Y’all, I’ve got a very special video for you today. I strongly believe that every student, teacher, and parent out there should memorize what I call The Study Cycle. It needs to be a part of the daily language in classrooms and households. Normally I keep this video locked up in my paid online courses, but today I’m releasing it for you to watch for FREE!

Check out the video here. And then — if you’re a teacher, tutor, school administrator or academic coach, please considering joining me for my upcoming course The Art of Inspiring students to Study Strategically. We start on February 27th. You will learn everything you need to know to ensure that students have the tools they need to rock their learning with or without you!

Hey there, while I HIGHLY recommend watching this particular video in full, here is a summary:

The Study Cycle is composed of 3 steps and is the most effective, efficient, and anti-boring method I know for studying. So before we begin going over the steps, I have a little image here, which we will be referencing.

 

The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically | Gretchen Wegner | Teacher | Teachers | Tutors | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching | Academic Coaches | Tutors | Tutor | Study Skills | School Administrators | Parents | Parent | Student | StudentsWe start with the basket of knowledge and skills at the bottom of the image, this is what we need to learn, and we need to get this into your beautiful brain at the top. So step 1 is encoding the information from the basket into our brains. In this step, we are getting the information into our brains, whether we are teaching it to ourselves or it’s being taught to us.

Step 2 of The Study Cycle, which the majority of students skip, is practice retrieval. This is the process of getting the information out of our brains and assessing what we actually learned. By doing this, we get two very important pieces of information. The first is what we do know, what we actually did learn in step 1. The second is what we didn’t encode in step 1. What we didn’t learn, or encode, we put back into the basket of knowledge.

Then we have step 3. Step 3 is one of the least practiced steps, but just as important or more important than the other 2. Step 3 is to encode the information we assessed we didn’t learn in step 2 in a NEW way. The important thing is NOT just to try to re-encode it the same way you did in Step 1, but to encode the information in a new way.

My course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, for students, and The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically, for Educators, both are filled with a wide variety of tools to help students encode information in new ways. So check them out, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Take Better Notes with This Simple Math-Inspired Technique

Take Better Notes With This Simple Math-Inspired Technique | Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | The College Prep PodcastStudents struggle to summarize information effectively, often resorting to writing too much or too little in their notes.

Gretchen has perfected a technique that adopts symbols from math to help students read more effectively and take notes more efficiently. Tune in to discover:

  • What math symbols provide the best shorthand for note-taking
  • How to read texts with an eye for identifying what “math formulas” are present in the ideas
  • Three examples for how to summarize key info in a text using math shorthand
  • A client story that reveals how successful this note-taking method can be

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.