Turning the Tide for Struggling Students

Wesleyan College: 2020-2021
Timing is everything, but there’s never a bad time to solve a problem. Our project began with in-person sessions and quickly adapted to virtual ones as COVID-19 hit. Our focus was on making immediately improving the performance of students on academic probation. While the pandemic changed how we met, it did not change the efficacy of our work.

The outcome?

An extraordinary 35% increase in students achieving solid academic standing, with many rising to high performance! It was literally a rising from the bottom to the top for many of these students!

What was the key tool that turned the tide?

The ThinkWell-LearnWell Diagram was our key to victory. This tool helped students escape the Pseudowork Trap and reach immediate success, creating a chain reaction of better thinking, better learning, and higher grades! (The Pseudowork Trap is one of the dilemmas that limit students’ potential that I reveal in my upcoming book: How to Successfully Transition Students into College: From Traps to Triumph, which will be released through Routledge Press and available everywhere on December 4, 2023.)

What I love about this project.

My first collaboration with an all-women’s college was filled with receptiveness and enthusiasm. The students thrived, many experiencing academic life off probation for the first time. Plus, the Fountain of Juice restaurant became one of my favorite eateries! Don’t let the smallness of it fool you. They have great healthy food!

What three things can others learn from this project?

  1. Never wait for perfect conditions to act. The leadership could have put our work off due to the pandemic or other reasons. However, by pushing forward, they exceeded their academic goals and improved their financial situation.
  2. The difference between success and failure is surprisingly small. The probationary students were on the brink of success; all they needed were the right tools and approach.
  3. Address the root of a problem, not the symptoms. Solving the core problem helps students become independent learners, empowering them to overcome even the toughest circumstances, as shown below.

The Receipts

The follow-up message below illustrates the power of the right approach. My Textbook Navigation Strategy helped a probationary student excel despite getting a late start. A potential disaster turned into a win, showcasing the incredible impact proper guidance can have on students. A triumph against the odds!


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