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“I belong here”: Identifying oneself as a strong student

As a high school sophomore in a rural town, Tyler knew he didn’t want to work in dairy like his family did. He liked working with his hands, so he took welding classes in high school that would put him on track for a manufacturing job.

He always turned his homework in on time. He tried hard in his classes, and he got good grades. When he had questions, he knew how to get the information he needed. But he wasn’t a good student.

At least, that’s what he told his InsideTrack coach Hayley, even when she’d point out that he was acing courses like English.

“I would ask him, ‘why do you think you’re getting an A, if you’re not good at it?’” she recalled. He’d respond, she said, by telling her, “‘it’s not my thing.’”

“He would never identify as a good student,” Hayley reflected. “And I would say, ‘why not?’”

InsideTrack coaches spend a lot of time asking questions. By encouraging students to reflect on their own habits and strengths, they can start to see new possibilities for themselves.

Hayley helped Tyler recognize the skills he had that would serve him well as he continued through school and onto a career. He had follow-through, and a knack for connecting with people. He didn’t always feel comfortable with technology, but Hayley helped him recognize how a gift for in-person communication set him apart.

As Tyler continued with welding and other classes in his course track, he realized that they were preparing him for jobs he didn’t want. He decided to stick with it — which Hayley pointed out was due to his resilience, another quality that positioned him for success. But at the same time, he began thinking about other options.

As he prepares to start the second year of his associate’s degree program, he’s starting to feel more at home in school. He’s considering taking engineering classes, so he can have better financial opportunities in the future. That’s something he never would have considered back when he was in high school. Hayley’s working with Tyler to celebrate these changes as milestones in his development.

“I’m starting to see his growth,” Hayley said. Instead of Tyler telling her that he’s not a good student, she said, he now says, “‘I belong here. I can do this.’”

Student name has been changed.

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