In addition to supporting students as an academic coach, I also help families through school transitions as an educational consultant. My main goal is encouraging our young people to choose a college because of its opportunities – not necessarily its ranking. Last week, I had the unique opportunity to learn about one of the most innovative teaching models I’ve yet to see in over 20 years in education. In a coffee shop nestled on a tree-lined street in the Village, a team of representatives from the West Coast talked with me about an incredible program called College Excel.
Founded in 2003 by Jeannie Crowell and Sue Harless, College Excel is based in Bend, Oregon with year-round, rolling enrollment for students who have floundered in more traditional, linear learning environments. The goal of College Excel is to create the kind of foundation that every college student needs – but few receives – in order to thrive in a demanding academic environment. Each student is provided with not one but two coaches who meet together twice a week to strengthen both intellectual and personal skills for success. An academic coach focuses on the tools of organization, time management, critical thinking, and study habits, while a life coach certified in Behavioral Coaching works with each student to examine factors of motivation, purpose, and leadership. Students then earn four credits in a “College Success” program that addresses themes of procrastination, values clarification, conflict resolution, personal finance, and even nutrition. Students then learn to translate these skills into improved performance at partner schools like Central Oregon Community College (www.cocc.edu) and Oregon State College-Cascades (www.osucascades.edu).
Learning about the amazing foundation of holistic support in this educational community was absolutely inspiring – I wish every college student could explore the kind of personal opportunities of vision and direction offered at College Excel. Even parents have access to a one-on-one coach! Weekly conference calls are provided to mothers and fathers of College Excel students to answer questions, manage family conflict, and improve communication with their sons and daughters.
You might be surprised about the variety of students who land at College Excel – there are individuals here from Auburn, Boston University, Syracuse, Tufts, Trinity, Wesleyan, and Yale. Where do they journey from here? Participants have been accepted to American University, Colorado College, Northeastern, St. Johns, Texas A&M, and the University of Michigan – among other esteemed institutions.
I encourage you to read more about this supportive, innovative educational experience at www.collegeexcel.com - and be sure to explore the option of attending the Summer Intensive 2011, June 13th-September 11th, which offers courses in Positive Psychology, Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Intro to Literature: Poetry, and Shakespeare Review.
If you know a bright young person who has passion but needs a little direction, College Excel just might be the program to launch a whole new landscape for their dreams.