Student coaching program does more nagging than teaching

Your parents probably wouldn’t have minded if they were paid $1,000 a year to pester you.

Because that’s what InsideTrack, a “student coaching” program charges 8212; $500 per semester 8212; to do essentially the same thing your parents did: hover and nag.

According to InsideTrack’s website, its service “enriches the student experience, improves enrollment and retention rates and provides valuable student feedback.” But what does that really mean?

They offer 30-minute sessions via telephone once a week in which they ask students about progress, grades, good news and personal lives. They plan out times for students to talk to their parents. They create a system of “reminders” for assignments.

Basically, the service lives your life for you, but better than you could live it alone.

Although InsideTrack’s services sound superfluous and a bit like a money-scheme, recent studies indicate otherwise 8212; sort of.

A study conducted by a professor and doctorate student at Stanford University, which was independent of and not funded by InsideTrack, indicated that these coaching sessions made an impact on students’ persistence, especially in males.

Tested over two years at various unnamed universities in the country, the study noted the academic differences of two “control groups” 8212; students who received no coaching or who were athletes and those who did.

After six months, coached students were more than five percent more likely to be enrolled than the control group, which is a nine percent gain in retention. The study showed that, on average, the likelihood of a student graduating was four percent higher than those who weren’t.

The study stressed the importance of retention 8212; that is, students staying in school. But it never once mentioned actual improvement of exam scores or course grades. This omission led my confidence in InsideTrack’s services to falter.

Not only do I question the tangible effects of the coaching, but I also question the coaching at all.

“Oftentimes in higher education, we assume that students know how to behave,” the researchers wrote. “We assume that they know how to study, how to prioritize and how to plan.”

That’s where, they argue, coaching comes in.

On one hand, they’re right 8212; college can be a real academic and culture shock for incoming students who expected to be throwing Frisbees and partying all day. But the readjustment to the reality of college is part of growing up and becoming a college student. I can’t help but wonder if coaches learning these lessons for students isn’t detrimental.

In one of the testimonial videos on InsideTrack’s website, a student vouched for the services, explaining that the processes for applying for internships, scholarships, study abroad and various other opportunities is too convoluted for him to manage.

What happens when he graduates? Does he suddenly expect everything to be simple and pretty? Parking tickets, mortgages, applying for loans 8212; the red-tape of life is inevitable.

Some may argue that the skills he learned while being coached could carry through the rest of his life, but I am not sure that anything is being taught to students. Rather, things are being done for them.

Despite my skepticism, I know some students may truly need these services. Those with learning or mental disabilities could be one group that could benefit from persistent life-managing.

But for the majority of students, InsideTrack’s personal “coaching” is little more than having another set of parents nagging you or taking care of the “hard things” so you don’t have to do them.

Emily Atteberry is a freshman journalism and Spanish double major from Olathe, Kan.