Academic life coaching helps teens succeed

Academic life coaching helps teens succeed

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Anybody who has a teenager knows they're facing a ton of pressures. Expectations from school, home, work and friends can weigh heavy on their young minds. And parents and teachers can't always get through.

But there's a new resource to help teens succeed: Academic Life Coaching.

"I don't think they give us kids enough credit. There's so much stress all the time from school, sports, a job, family," said Conor Milroy, a senior at Mayfield High School.

"I think teens have a difficult time talking to their parents about what they want to do. They're pressured from their parents about going to a certain college. And I think they're seeking help," said parent Mindy Hayes.

Help for Milroy came in the form of Academic Life Coach, Natalie Borrell.

She's more than a tutor. Borrell says she works on life skills in a school setting.

"So we might work on things like organization, goal setting, leadership, time management, how to balance all those things you have to do as a high school student," said Borrell.

The high school psychologist is now certified by the International Coaching Federation. She develops skill-building activities to get teens thinking about where they want to be, and gives them the motivation to get there.

Students and parents who've experienced Borrell's methods say it's working.

"I can't say enough about where my daughter is now," said parent Rachel Legerski.

"My goal was to get into a college. I ended up getting into three," said St. Ignatius High School Senior, Mikhail Wuertz.

"I have come away from it a better person, a better student. And I would recommend it to anybody. Even if you are not necessarily struggling, it'll be helpful," said Milroy.

Wuertz says the academic life coaching sessions made him think differently, got him focused on a career path, and eased stress and frustration.

"I definitely tried hard in school, but my grades didn't reflect how hard I tried," he said.

Milroy says he felt confident in the pool, as a competitive swimmer, but he needed a boost in the classroom and with intangible skills.

Borrell gives students assignments each week, having to do with a goal the student sets for themselves.

The "Wheel of life" exercise seems to resonate the most with her students. In it, students are asked to prioritize and rate various aspects of their life, like parents, social life, academics, even their room.

"You see that if you can better one category, you can better all the categories," said Wuertz.

The teens say talking to someone other than a teacher or a parent helped them relax, be honest, and set agendas and attainable goals.

"I'm not in an authoritative position to them. We're on the same page. We're on the same level. I'm not telling them to do something. I'm asking them what it is they want to do and I help them get there. So I might even say a lot of the same things or give the same advice that parents do, but it sounds completely different coming from somebody who is not your mom or dad," Borrell said.

"Having another voice that allows her to not feel pushed or managed into a decision that she doesn't want was incredibly valuable," said Legerski.

Borrell has priced herself between what a tutor and a counselor or psychologist would charge. And packages range from a three-session "tune up" to an extended 10-session program.

Legerski sees it as an investment in her daughter's future.

"Natalie has given our children skills that will carry them in to their adult lives, skills that you will always need. And you won't pick up on your own," she said.

And Hayes says it's nothing compared to college tuition money wasted on a student who isn't prepared.

Fresh off their academic life coaching sessions, Wuertz and Milroy are closing out their senior years in a good place, ready and now able to take on the world.

For more information on how Academic Life Coaching can help your teen, and for free resources, click here.

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