Empower your student to design their life
People believe college is about a degree, about finding a job – and that can be accomplished at most universities. But at BGSU, your student will earn more than a degree. They will graduate ready for a career and a meaningful life.
But we know our students can’t do it alone and your support is critical to your student’s success. Sothe Office of Student Success and Life Design has put together the following resources to equip you with tools to help guide your students when they feel stuck or unsure where to go next.
They will do this by sharing the tools we are using with our students across campus in our NEW Life Design Lab.
The first tool we use with our students is to “Accept Where They Are." It is important that we all take time to check in with ourselves from time to time to see how we are feeling. Do you ever find that when you ask your student “How are you doing?” you just hear back a one-word syllable like “fine” or “good”? We want to encourage deeper reflection in our students.
In Life Design, we encourage students to check in with themselves, but we break it down to specific areas including academics, career, purpose, well-being and connections. We ask them to think of each area on a dashboard of being on a continuum from empty to full. We ask them to reflect about this a couple times a semester, and this is something you can do too.
When you are checking in with your student, are you being specific? How can you gauge what is important to them? As coaches, we find it particularly helpful to leave space for silence – let them talk through what they are thinking, and don’t try to solve anything for them (many of us are parents or family members, and we understand the struggle to not solve a problem for your student!)
Acknowledge feelings and emotions, and then ask them after you are done checking in if there is anything they would like to improve over the next month or so. Allow them to lead the conversation, with you providing helpful guidance along the way. Help them to think about manageable goals or “mini goals” they could set to help them improve different areas.
These don’t have to be huge action items – but help them to be specific. Instead, the mini goal being “I should probably make friends”, how about “this week I will ask one person from class to go to lunch.” Then, casually ask in conversation how this goal went – not passing judgement if it didn’t go well. Encourage them to think about what they learned from either trying or not trying something. Many times, if we don’t accomplish a goal, it is telling us something – if we are willing to look.
We hope this tool of the Life Design Dashboard is helpful when you are working with your student. If your student would like to be connected to a coach – they are available throughout the year. A Design Coach at BGSU can help them get unstuck, see problems in new ways and connect them to resources to further their ideas and take action.