Longstanding Academic Coaches Reflect on 15 Years of Student Service

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When the Center for Academic Coaching partners with students, goals are generated, plans are executed, and growth is reviewed and achieved. The Center provides a caring and consistent environment to support academic progress at Endicott College. None of this is possible without the coaches.

Academic coaches Amy Cohn (not pictured), Heidi Fox, Katie Krathwohl, and Kathleen Robinson have all worked at Endicott—helping students attain success—for 15 years or more.

They’ve witnessed many changes during this time. They’ve seen the construction of new academic buildings, like the Walter J. Manninen Center for the Arts, Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business & Ginger Judge Science Center, and the new Samuel C. Wax Academic Center, as well as a host of new dorms and parking lots. They went from working in small cubicles in the Diane M. Halle Library to their own dedicated space within the Division of Academic Success on the second floor.

Krathwohl paraphrases former Vice President & Dean of the Undergraduate College Dr. Laura Rossi-Le when she says, “At Endicott, you don’t have to change. It changes for you.”

The Center for Academic Coaching is fee-for service focusing on student growth and development. Students meet with coaches for two sessions per week, focusing on goal-setting, organization, and time management, among other skills. Formerly known as the Student Support Center, Academic Coaching, like the rest of the college, has evolved over time, but one thing remains constant—several longstanding coaches and their commitment to students. 

“In the old days, I thought of myself as a ‘super-tutor,’” says Director Amy Cohn. “Now, I am much, much more of a facilitator. It’s not my take, or my habits, or my practice, or my way of doing things that matters; it’s helping the student find theirs.”

Fox, who doubles as a Professional Tutor for business courses, distinguishes the job from tutoring, but also draws some similarities. “Tutoring is more content-specific, while coaching supports a student’s broader goals,” she says. “We want to help students figure out what works. We want to help students reach greater understanding, either of content, a writing process, or self-management skills.”

While the name and objective of the Center have changed, in many ways these coaches bring the same philosophy to the job.

“My goal has always been to support students in their journeys, helping them to realize who they are, to have confidence in themselves and to explore what they want to become,” says Robinson.
An academic coach aims to help the student determine what success means to them, which often changes over time.

“A good coach recognizes how to draw out a student’s unique hopes and dreams and partner with them as they convert those hopes and dreams into actionable steps that lead to their realization,” says Cohn.
A successful coaching session also depends on the student’s willingness to reflect on their goals, strengths, and weaknesses, and also to act on them.

Robinson has seen these qualities in action. “Over the years, I have had a few students who were told by high school teachers that they would never last in college,” she says. “Two wonderful students come to mind who have proven how determined, resilient and capable they are. They not only had successful undergraduate experiences but have thrived in their respective master’s programs.”

Some students have very close relationships with their coaches, even reaching out many years after graduating from Endicott.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused coaching, like many other services, to be held virtually, rather than in-person. As people who have experienced over a decade of changes, this comes as yet another hurdle to overcome for coaches.

“We are fortunate that technology enables us to meet face-to-face virtually, though the meetings are not without frustrating moments of Wi-Fi malfunction,” says Fox. “I admire the students’ adaptability and acceptance of these limitations, as they approach each meeting with patience and determination.”

That being said, the coaches see many silver linings, offering students myriad ways to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

“Even during COVID, don't let your room become 80% of your experience,” says Krathwohl. “Get outside. Study in new places, there are a lot of alternative study spaces, including in the Manninen Center for the Arts, cyber cafe, library loft, dorm lounges....”

“Share yourself,” says Cohn. “Show your coach your room, your favorite top, your quilt, your lacrosse stick—anything that gives them more of a sense of who you are.”

Beyond dealing with COVID, the coaches offer these tips and pieces of advice for Endicott students.

Cohn: “Endicott hums with a plethora of microcommunities. Explore opportunities offered to figure out which one is right for you.”

Fox: “College is a safe place to explore interests and develop new ones. Don’t expect to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 18. Get to know your professors, meet new people, and take advantage of opportunities that pique your interest.”

Robinson: “Take control of your learning experience. Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Use the resources that are available to you.”

Krathwohl: “Get off campus. Boston is not that far away on train, and even during COVID you will get a new perspective getting out of the EC ‘bubble.’”

This is sound advice from four dedicated coaches who have had students’ best interests at heart for more than 15 years.

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