In this episode, I focus on life coaching for young adults with Pam Burke. How can a life coach help your child through the transitional college years to increase their odds of success?
Every year, over a million college students drop out of school. The majority are first-year students with an average dropout rate at 24.3%. Younger students are more likely to drop out because of low interest in the career stream and disinterest in college. This leaves the typical undergraduate college student with approximately $14,000 in student loan debt with an income at 35% lower than that of a college graduate. Needless to say, if you're going to make the jump into college, it's best to know what you want and finish it.
As parents, we have invested a lot into our children's future up until the point of high school graduation and we've been there to support them the whole time. But a million college dropouts a year say we need to find a way to improve the transition. If you're feeling hopeless, you're not alone. There is a little known resource called life coaching that can help.
Pamela Burke joins the show to talk about she uses life coaching to help high school and college students navigate through these difficult transitional times to increase their success.
Pam is a certified Martha Beck Wayfinder life coach and founder of Pam Burke Coaching. She is also a certified school counselor with experience in high school and elementary school where she found ways to not only support children, but the teachers and parents too.
She explains how life coaching benefits young adults, the difference between life coaching and counseling, and her approach. Additionally, she gives parents advice so that they know not only if life coaching is a good fit for their child, but how to approach these transitional years with success.
So here is the call to action: Too many kids are unprepared for college leading to a million dropouts a year and increased financial burdens. Consider a life coach as a powerful change agent to help navigate through the transitional high school, college, and career phases to improve their odds at success.
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Welcome to the Brighter Side of Education. Podcast. I am your host. Dr. Lisa Richardson Hassler here to enlighten and brighten the classrooms in America through focused conversation on important topics in education. In each episode, I discuss problems we as teachers and parents are facing and what people are doing in their communities to fix it. What are the variables, and how can we duplicate it to maximize student outcomes? In this episode, I focused on life coaching for young adults. How can a life coach help your child through the transitional college years to increase their odds of success?
Every year, over a million college students drop out of school. The majority are first year students with an average dropout rate at 24.3%. Younger students are more likely to drop out because of low interest in the career stream and disinterest in college. 9% of college dropouts leave due to the lack of sufficient family support. And students frequently find themselves in confusion when deciding if they want to continue their education due to the financial constraints, family responsibilities, or dissatisfaction with their degree course. According to research, the results leave dropouts facing more economic difficulties due to a lack of college qualifications, connections, and professional life experiences.
What are those economic difficulties, you may wonder? Well, the typical undergraduate leaves college with approximately $14,000 in student loan debt, with an income at 35% lower than that of a college graduate. Now, dropout rates impact both the economy as well as the students. More than 2 million students have failed to cover their loans in the past six years, and it's estimated that in the next ten years, taxpayers will have an overall $31 billion in losses due to low limits for defaulting on student loans. Needless to say, if you're going to make the jump into college, it's best to know what you want and finish it now.
As parents, we've invested a lot into our children's future up until this point of high school graduation, and we've been there to support them the whole time. But a million college dropouts a year say we need to find a way to improve the transition. If you're feeling hopeless, you're not alone. There's a little known resource called Life Coaching that can help. Today, I'm happy to welcome Pamela Burke to the show to talk about how she uses life coaching to help high school and college students navigate through these difficult transitional times to increase their success. Pam is a certified Martha Beck Wayfinder life coach and the founder of Pam Burke coaching.
She is also a certified school counselor with experience in high school and elementary school where she found ways to not only support children, but the teachers and parents too. Welcome to the show, Pam.
Thank you, Lisa, for inviting me to the show. And I'm so excited about the opportunity to talk about life coaching and ways that parents can support their children that they might not know about.
Well, to begin with, can you tell us how you got into coaching?
Yeah, I'm going to share a little bit about my back story in order to help answer your question. So it might seem a little long winded, but it will make sense in the end. I think many people experience a life that unfolds very sequentially and predictably, but my life wasn't like that. I went to community college because that's what I could afford, and I worked full time while I attended school. And after earning my associate's degree, I went directly into the working world. I was married very young and divorced by the time I was 27. I started a real estate company in the early 90s after my divorce, which is, of course, something that everybody does.
When you have everything in your life that kind of falls apart, what do you do? Just start a business and see what you can do. But the 90s was economically a challenging time, and eventually I was hired by a building company that specialized in creating empty nester communities. That gave me a little bit more stability than having my own business. And because of that stability, I was able to return to college while I was working, and I earned my undergraduate degree and counseling and psychology. I wasn't planning on changing careers at that time. I just loved to learn and wanted to continue my formal education and working in sales, I dealt with a lot of different people, so getting a degree in psychology was extremely helpful.
So after almost 20 years working for a building company in New England, I decided I wanted to change careers and went back to school and got a master's degree in education and school counseling. My interest shifted from the empty nester population to young adults after my husband's three children came to live with us shortly after we were married. And as you know, blending a family takes a lot of effort, patience, and emotional intelligence, and that experience really inspired me to want to work with young adults. So I started my counseling career at the high school level and later shifted to elementary and middle school.
And what I learned over the decade of working as a counselor in a school setting is that environment is extremely intense and schedule driven, and it doesn't provide the time that's often needed to support students or their parents. I found very little space or time built into the schedule to slow down, to reflect and be mindful. And to me, it was like a big game of beat the clock, and after a while, that just didn't work for me. So I became more clear about this after I started working with a life coach, and I loved the tools she used during our sessions, as well as activities I could work on in between meetings to help me understand how my beliefs in many ways were limiting me in different areas of my life.
And I enjoyed the coaching experience so much that I was motivated to get certified as a life coach. And during the training and certification process, I realized that many of the skills I developed over the years in business and counseling could be brought together into my coaching business.
You've done a lot and your experience is very vast. I was one of those teachers that was under your wing. I found that the way that you can relate to not only the students, but the teachers and the parents really was one of your gifts. The skills that you've acquired over your lifetime really made you well suited for this position. And as you've experienced the guidance counseling, then from high schoolers, I'm sure that college concerns came up during those years. And then if you jump ahead to the different services that students have that are offered through many school or university programs like career centers or counseling and psychological services, what's the difference between these services and life coaching?
Yeah, that's a great question. First, I have to say that many high schools and colleges have excellent student support services in place, but often they aren't utilized by the students or the career. And counseling centers have to service such a large population of students that it's almost impossible for students to get the personalized attention that they often need at this stage in life. And that's where coaching can be really helpful. I spend quality time with high school, college, or postgraduate students and help them clarify their goals, break overwhelming tasks into small steps, or help them learn to advocate for themselves and to sometimes just tap into the resources that might be in place that they aren't thinking about utilizing.
And coaching tends to be more present and future oriented, where counseling often focuses on exploring the past in order to unpack, where behaviors and patterns began to develop. So there's similarities between coaching and counseling, like active listening, holding space, being present, and developing the relationship a coach and a counselor need to learn these skills. But for me, coaching is more looking at what's working in a client's life and what's getting in the way of them moving toward what they want more of in life. And I'm naturally drawn to the process of goal setting and planning and working the plan in order to bring about a desired outcome.
I'm very disciplined by nature, and not everybody has the ability to hold themselves accountable. So learning how to balance studies, for example, or extracurricular activities, friends and work can be really overwhelming during high school, college, and even after college. So having a coach to touch base with on a regular basis can help young adults stay focused and set up a dynamic of accountability to themselves and what they want to accomplish.
So why did you create a coaching for kids component to your business?
I remember what it felt like to be confused as a young adult, and I made a lot of bad choices when I was young because I didn't really know who to turn to. So, developmentally adolescence and young adulthood is a time where kids separate from their parents physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, in order to figure out who they want to be and how they want to live their life. And I wish I had an opportunity to work with a coach when I was young because I really felt so lost. I didn't think I could turn to my parents.
I knew my parents were there for me and loved me, but they told me what I should think and do versus listening to me. At least that's what it felt like at the time. I didn't feel like there was room for my voice and opinions. And looking back, I know they had a lot more life experience and probably could see things more clearly than I could, but that wasn't helpful to me at the time. I think kids really benefit from having a mentor or coach as a sounding board to help them learn and grow in their own way.
And the role of a parent is absolutely critical to a child's growth and development. But a coach or mentor isn't emotionally invested the way a parent is. A coach's role is to meet the client where they're at and to try to help them understand their emotions and question their thinking and look at their actions and behaviors so they can make decisions that will move them forward to a life they want to create. And when a parent provides their child with the gift of coaching, they're really providing them with lifelong skills that can be called upon throughout all the ups and downs a person is going to experience over a lifetime.
So when you think about middle school, high school and after college, these are really critical times in a young person's life. There's lots of reasons why kids might need counseling during these years. It could be alcohol, drugs, cutting, suicide ideation, divorce, death, disease. So counseling is really important for many children, but there's lots of kids that don't have that level of need that counseling addresses. But they could benefit from having a mentor, a coach that's trained to listen and help them seek solutions and strategies and resources. And as a coach, I'm able to.
Do that just as a testimony to your wonderful skills. I used Pam's services for my daughter and who is going through that college transitional time and it was a gift to her. Honestly, you were able to reach her in ways that I couldn't as a parent. And I see the effects a year later as a tremendous turn in her life and how she is handling her decision making on a much more mature level. And I'm so impressed with that. So kudos to you because that was really a testimony to what life coaching can do with a young adult at that transitional time in their life and it was something I hadn't considered.
I never really thought about it as a resource until I knew you. And this is what you're going through. And you had brought it up, and I tried it, and I can't stop telling parents about it because I just think that it's really a great gift that we as parents can give our children to help them through those transitional years that will impact their college experience, their career experience, and just those transitional teen moments where they're leaving the nest and having to enter into a more independent adulthood. And what does that mean for them? So how is working with young adults different than working with grown adults?
Another great question. Young adults don't have the same amount of life experience that adults do. So I'm very sensitive to working them with them in a developmentally appropriate way. Very often my work with young adults is helping them understand what they value separate from their parents but also helping them put language around that. So I have different tools I can introduce depending on the particular child. For example, rather than asking a young person what do you value? I have a stack of cards, value cards that have photographs and words and I have them look through this cards and sort them into piles and I'll say okay, put these into what's most important to you, what's important to you and not so important.
And then after they do that I'll have them take the most important stack and ask them to pick the top five things from that grouping that are and put them out. And as they do this they need to grapple with well why am I making this decision? And describe why. And so through our conversation I can help them put words and language to these abstract concepts and that helps them begin to learn to understand their values as well as be able to communicate and describe them to other people. I also help kids strengthen their self awareness by explaining the basic coaching model which is how emotions and thoughts and behaviors can either be helpful or unhelpful.
And by getting them to notice their feelings and notice their thoughts and be more mindful of what happens internally they can use that information to take action or not take action. I can help them with something that seems overwhelming by breaking things down into small steps so they can move towards something that's important to them rather than being paralyzed or stuck because they can't even figure out where to start. So developmentally appropriate tools and activities are important in my work with young adults. And what I find is sometimes parents get frustrated with kids because they think they should be making better decisions or getting things done the way an adult would do it.
And I try to remind parents that their kids are exactly where they're supposed to be and they're a work in progress and that growing up isn't something you achieve. It's something that continually evolves.
Good advice. When would a parent know that life coaching is a good fit for their young adult child?
I think one of the first signs for a parent is that the parent is perhaps feeling stressed or frustrated because their child isn't making the progress that they would like to see them making. Maybe their child is starting to shut down from them, or every conversation seems to turn into an argument. You talked about me working with your daughter, and my husband and I hired a coach for our son during his last year in college because we were concerned about his rather relaxed approach to completing his studies and his lack of planning for after college. And we realized that we needed someone in addition to and other than us to help him move forward.
On the flip side, if a parent sees that their child is really unsure or stressed about their future, bringing in an objective outside party like a coach can be really helpful. I've worked with a few young adults that were transitioning from college to the working world, and very often they have a lot of skills that are desirable in the world of work, but they don't see how important those skills are, or they might not have the ability to communicate that in an interview. So I spend time identifying these skills and helping give them ideas about how to promote themselves to potential employers. And I'm able to use the years of experience I have in hiring and managing employees to help these young adults understand that they have very valuable skills and they're transferable to specific jobs they're seeking.
Other times, their parents might want to have their child work with a coach if they're considering a change in majors or if they're struggling with distractions of college life. I think there's a lot of different reasons.
What advice can you give parents of young adults going through this high school to college, college to career transitional phrases?
My advice to parents is to listen to your child. And if you think they're really getting off track, get someone that you know and trust to talk to them. It can be an uncle, an aunt, a coach, family friend, or grandparent. It's not unusual for someone to give the exact same advice a parent tries to give their child, and suddenly the child embraces the idea because it came from somebody other than their parent. I remember my older sister always telling me that when we were raising our kids, and she'd be like, oh, my gosh, you got to get somebody else to say that to them because they'll never listen to you.
It's so true.
The stress and pressures on children are significant these days. Social media has created a platform where kids think that everyone has everything figured out, and they are internally saying, oh, they have it all figured out. But I don't and they see pictures of their friends doing exciting things and posting about awards that they've received or colleges they've gotten into, or jobs they've accepted. And the pressure starts to build internally because they think they're behind or that there's something wrong with them because they're not accomplishing things at the same pace that their friends are. And as adults, we know that this social media platform, so much of it just isn't true.
And young adults really do need their parents and sometimes somebody outside of their family to help them navigate these major transitions.
That's wonderful advice, and I'm sure many parents will find it very helpful, myself included, as I continue to tout your services and make sure that people are aware of this wonderful resource that we have in our community and to be able to utilize it and help our kids out. At the end of the day, we're trying to help them reach their maximum potential. And if it's by having that third person involved to help direct them to what choices are better for them, then I feel like the long term outcomes are going to be more desirable, and I think everyone wins. Excellent.
So here's the call to action then. Too many kids are unprepared for college, leading to a million dropouts a year and increased financial burdens. Consider a life coach as a powerful change agent to help navigate through the transitional high school, college, and career phases to improve their odds at success. Thank you, Pam, for joining me today. To talk about how life coaching benefits young adult students in preparing them for a successful future. To learn more, go to www.pamburkcoaching.com.
If you have a story about what's working in your schools that you'd like to share, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.drlisarhassler.com and send me a message. If you like this podcast, subscribe and tell a friend. The more people that know, the bigger impact it will have. And if you find value to the content in this podcast, consider becoming a supporter by clicking on the Supporter link in the show Notes. It's the mission of this podcast to shop light on the good and education so that it spreads affecting positive change. So let's keep working together to find solutions that focus on our children's success.