Kansas State University


K-State Parents and Family Program

Academic Coaching: Magic Answers

The Academic Coaching program offered under the Division of Student Life, is a free resource made available to any student at any level of any degree. Students will be assigned a professional academic coach, made available to meet one on one without a limit on duration. The notes below are thoughts from the Director of Academic Coaching, Scott Voos.

Magic Answers

One of the most common reasons students seek us out is to talk about poor grades. This is usually phrased in a statement like “I’m not good at math.” There is so much context within that statement and our eyes light up when we hear something along those lines. As an academic coach
we are naturally inquisitive and particularly curious to know more about that negative experience. We are drawn to explore the brick wall a student has run into and that’s where the conversation really begins.So many factors have led the student to their fixed mindset of thinking they’re simply not good at math and that it’s impossible to pass. Our job is to talk through the issues of the situation and to help the student realize that there are probably other circumstances that have led to the poor performance so far. Has the student been attending each class? What is their attention level while in class? What type of attention has the student paid towards in class notes? What type of effort has the student paid towards out of class studying? Has the student sought out tutoring and how often have they frequented that service? What type of activities are they performing if not doing these things mentioned? All of these questions help to lead to conclusions related to some type of deficiency in grade performance. Our goal is to help create that lightbulb moment in the student, where they too see the glaring lack of attention to a detail involved.

Once identified, the real work begins with the student. The student and coach begin to design an action plan related to overcoming their brick wall. We work hard to not focus on the end goal of getting an ‘A’ in math, but to convey the importance of incremental steps towards the finish line. This systematic and daily approach helps to break down the daunting task of beating a large obstacle. We will then have follow up conversations related to the student’s observations of what they have implemented.

There are no magic answers involved and there is unfortunately not an ability to solve a riddle in one meeting. We wholeheartedly believe that every student has the ability to succeed and within them, they have the answer to their own riddle. The epic pace of collegial life coupled with new found freedom of independence creates an almost impossible expectation to keep in tune with the demands of academic life. Sometimes you just need to be forced to slow down and strategically think things through. And that’s the type of space we hope to create.