Does your college student have trouble selecting classes? Is he/she struggling to pick a major? Does your student struggle with engagement and motivation? Are you concerned about his/her graduation timeline?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are not alone! It can be exceedingly difficult for parents to watch their students flounder and struggle to identify their greater purpose. At College Success Plan, we hear so many parents express the same sentiment:
I just want my student to be happy, feel successful and identify a career path that will provide long-term fulfillment!
Sometimes the process of meeting with an advisor, taking classes, doing research, trying out different summer jobs and internships, meeting with the Career Center, etc. just isn’t enough to help a student identify his or her ultimate purpose. College Success Plan’s Compass Program provides the structure, framework and resources necessary to help students answer this paramount question.
College Success Plan’s Compass Program utilizes the Greenwood System, a comprehensive report and career exploration process that takes into account a student's unique abilities, interests, personality and values to create an action plan for the future. With the support of a trained College Success Plan Mentor, your student will navigate the self and career exploration process to help him/her make decisions about course work, majors, internships and ultimately a career after college. After exploring the student’s top 100 job matches, the list will be narrowed down to the top 3-5 jobs. Finally, your College Success Plan Mentor will help your student create an action plan outlining goals such as: identifying people for informational interviews, identifying degree and certification programs and exploring potential jobs/internships.
Students who go through this process are more confident in their educational decisions and have a focused and concrete plan to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals. Call us to learn more!
By Anna Nickerson, Babson College Class of ‘22, Gap Year Solutions
Elizabeth Pyle is the founder of College Success Plan, which helps students stay on track once they’re in college. She and her team of fourteen other women help students develop a plan for where they want to be at the end of each semester. In order to do so, she helps students structure their weeks, assess weekly goals, manage course materials, and develop realistic study strategies. As a mom of four, business owner, and active community member, Elizabeth is an inspiration to us all. Gap Year Solutions had the opportunity to speak with Elizabeth recently. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Gap Year Solutions: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how College Success Plan came to be?
Elizabeth Pyle: I graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in liberal arts and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I made my way to New York City post-grad and worked in advertising for a bit before I decided to get my Masters in teaching. I eventually moved to Chicago, got married, and had four children. I spent most of my adult life teaching and tutoring, which I loved. From the time I was about sixteen years old, I knew I wanted to start my own business at some point. So, after about twelve years of this I created a tutoring company in my town where we worked with K-12 students.
I noticed a trend when these students went off to college, though. They were rock stars in high school, but weren’t successful in college. I thought, “How can we support these students to get back on track?” I decided to sell my company to my business partner and I used that capital to create College Success Plan in 2014.
GYS: What exactly does College Success Plan do?
EP: I wanted to create College Success Plan to empower college students and the women who are working with them. I’d say about 50% of the students we work with are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, so we try to hone in on executive functioning skills for them, but also for all our students. This can be adapted for everyone, but we specifically work on time management (managing a calendar/planner) and creating effective study skills and strategies. When their big exam comes around, we want them to feel prepared and ready.
Our ultimate goal for students is independence. We keep students accountable with weekly check-ins and strategy sessions that increase their confidence and decrease anxiety. We usually work with students for two semesters, but many students stay on because it lowers their stress. With that said, we hand the reins over to them and empower them to work independently. We work with students across the country, 100% virtually, which provides our students and our academic mentors a lot of flexibility, which is important to me as a working mom.
GYS: How are you dealing with COVID-19? Have you been forced to pivot in any way?
EP: One of the things I love to tell students is, “There is a Solution to Every Situation.” While this is applicable to students who are struggling in school, we also need to adapt as a business. Because we work with students virtually, there was a seamless transition when students came home due to COVID. I’d say the parents were even more freaked out than the students, so we had to communicate effectively.
The biggest change for us and for students is that professors are not following their syllabi and adapting their classes at the last minute. This means that students must check their emails and college portals every day to make sure they have the most up-to-date information.
In general, we are a students’ constant which is super valuable to that student and their families. We have always provided individualized focus on every student and that hasn’t changed. This past semester, our cumulative GPA across all students was 3.3, which is great!
Another thing I’ll add is that nothing ever surprises me. I tend to be super realistic and can address any situation – as a mother of four active students and an active community member, I’ve learned to adapt quickly.
GYS: Do you get many Gap Year students using your services? What is your general perspective on Gap Years?
EP: I think Gap Years are fabulous – it is the gift of time for students. About 15-20% of our students take Gap Years! It’s all about the experiences for students, so Gap Years provide an opportunity for students to figure out what they like and don’t like. If we work with a student who is transitioning from a Gap Year, they typically do extremely well freshman year.
GYS: What advice do you have for students navigating the college experience this semester?
EP: Finding structure in this very unstructured environment is critical. Students should find a realistic routine and try to follow that every day, whether they’re back on campus or taking classes from their childhood bedroom. I find that at the beginning of the week, planning out what the upcoming week is going to look like is really helpful.
We are also seeing that students are getting unmotivated. If they’re in their room all the time, there’s not a lot to look forward to. Finding new places to study and take classes (like going outside when it’s nice out), is really important as well.
To see full article, click HERE.
At College Success Plan, our highly trained mentors want the best for your student. We go the extra mile to help students create an individualized plan for each week and to provide the tools, resources and support necessary to help all students perform to the best of their ability. If a realistic goal is making Dean’s List, passing 4 classes, lowering anxiety, or getting more organized, we have the steps to make that happen.
Right now, College Success Plan Mentors are busy making sure our students are asking the right questions and taking the necessary steps to prepare for final exams. This requires answering the following questions:
Struggling in a class?
Study in 50 minute chunks: Consider a scenario where you have 5 hours of reading on your plate. Looking at the massive pile of books on your desk can seem daunting and insurmountable. How can anyone fully focus on chapter 1 when there are so many to read? Science and research tells us that breaking tasks into 50 minute chunks, with short breaks in between, improves memory retention and concentration. Perhaps the 5 hours of work looks more enticing if you schedule 3 blocks before dinner and 2 blocks after dinner. Voila! The impossible now seems possible.
Schedule your free time: Free time is both a blessing and a curse. Too little free time makes you stressed, and too much free time makes you irresponsible. The best way to unwind and relax during the day is to strategically plan your free time. Pick blocks of the day where you are explicitly relaxing. Pick blocks of the day where you are explicitly working. This helps eliminate excess worry because you always know what you should be doing at any given moment. Chances are you’ll work a little harder just before a scheduled reprieve and get even more done.
Inspired by: Newport, C.. How to win at college: Surprising secrets for success from the country’s top students. New York: Broadway Books.
The weeks around midterms are very stressful for students. Midterm exams and projects consume copious amounts of time and energy, and official midterm grades can be disappointing and even shocking. For students who are not where they would like to be at the mid-semester mark, College Success Plan wants to remind you that there is still plenty of time to turn things around!
Steps for getting back on track:
College Success Plan is constantly reminding our students that there is a solution to every problem. No matter how desperate or dire a situation may feel, there are always opportunities for improvement and growth. Our Mentors empower students with this knowledge and guide them to identify these opportunities and take action. By focusing on the things you can control and releasing control of those you cannot, you minimize anxiety and are better able to identify a path forward. If your student would benefit from College Success Plan’s proven approach to helping students overcome their obstacles and achieve their goals, let us help!
Skim the Chapter Reading
You don’t have to read it all, but you can make it seem like you did!
Before you start reading:
Read the Syllabus
Read the Introduction and Conclusion carefully
Before the Exam:
With the ever changing academic environment, our goal is always to provide structure, consistency and accountability. We do this by modeling optimism, resilience and flexibility. That being said, we are stressing to students that this semester is going to move quickly. For many schools, the weeks are condensed and will require attention to detail, strong time management skills and diligence. A typical semester is 16-17 weeks and many now will be 12 weeks. There is less time to make up work, and assignments will be closer together. Students also need to be aware of changing expectations. We want to stay on track!
Below are a few questions to consider for students and families:
For most students, this summer looks and feels very different from previous summers. College Success Plan is nonetheless committed to helping students find new and creative ways to maximize their time off! This summer, our mentors are providing:
Many students have had their summer plans disrupted due to internship cuts and remote-only work opportunities this year. Some students have been fortunate enough to move forward with jobs, some have elected to take additional coursework and others are looking for unique ways to maximize their summer. College Success Plan encourages students to take the time to review their degree plans, update their job application materials, take an online class, pursue a new credential, create a portfolio, clean up their social media accounts, set up informational interviews, and refine their executive function skills.
While the summer can be a much-needed break from students’ hectic and demanding school schedules, it does not have to be a break from the effective habits they created on campus. Along with the change of environment, routine and expectations, students often disregard the habits they created on campus. We encourage you to view the summer as a time to help your students correct bad habits, replacing them with new, better and healthier choices.
While your students are home for the summer, encourage them to implement positive habits such as:
The summer can be the perfect time for a student to implement a new, healthier and more effective routine. At College Success Plan, one of the most important contributions we make to our students’ lives is the creation and maintenance of balance. We help our students achieve balance in their academic, personal, professional and social lives. Such balance is a key component of a stable and happy lifestyle. Please encourage your students to view the summer as an important opportunity to create better habits and patterns that will set them up for success during the 2020-21 school year!
The summer before your freshman year is an integral and overwhelming time for students and families. Preparing to move away from home, plan out an entire semester and start a new chapter poses countless challenges that leave many students and parents alike feeling overwhelmed. We help students consider their strengths, weaknesses and goals as they map out a plan for a successful semester. There are many things that are out of our control in today’s world - planning for college doesn’t have to be one of them!
College Success Plan knows how to set students up for success by helping them enroll in the right classes, create a sustainable schedule, find the best advisor and get organized for move-in day. We help students research professors, navigate ways to get involved on campus, ask for the appropriate accommodations, create a budget, and so much more.
We know what steps and decisions cause families the most stress, and we have a data-driven program to address and accomplish each of them. Students who work with us over the summer head into their school year feeling confident and prepared. Parents can rest assured that all deadlines are met and all paperwork is submitted on time. The emotional stress associated with such a major transition is more than enough for your family to tackle - let College Success Plan handle the rest.