Month: August 2020

Why do today what you can do tomorrow?

a bulletin board with notes that say do itI am likely one of the world’s foremost experts in procrastination. Ok, maybe that is an exaggeration, but my office is never cleaner than when I am putting off a major task. Believe me, I would much rather vacuum, dust, straighten, and do all the other parts of organizing than put my effort behind something I need to finish that I just don’t want to do.

The distance and lack of in-person engagement that is now a part of my work has somehow amplified this, too. Dealing with procrastination is a key piece of self-management. Poor time management, falling behind in tasks or projects, and working without a plan all contribute to procrastination. 

I regularly coach my clients through these hurdles. Fortunately, with a little bit of positive self-talk and the strategies that follow, each of us can successfully combat procrastination:

  1. Give it five minutes. Get your stuff together, decide your goal and set the timer for five minutes. You only have to work on the task for these few minutes, five earnest minutes in which you really make the effort to get started. If after that time, you still aren’t making progress, turn your attention to something else. Chances are that once you get going, five minutes will become fifty and you will be on your way to completing your bigger goal.
  2. Do the big task first. Put it on the calendar first thing in the morning or at a time when your energy is best and most focused. Get it out of the way so that you can get on to doing other things you enjoy more.
  3. Figure out why you don’t want to do it. Does the task at hand align with your skills and interests? Do you have the resources to complete it? If not, what will it take to get what you need? There might be times when you have the chance to delegate, ask for help, or find others who can help you kick-start your efforts. Knowing why you don’t want to do it is part of identifying what you need to overcome your procrastination. If you are a student, academic resource centers, tutors, and others can provide essential resources to help you get started.
  4. Break it into smaller chunks. Procrastination and the sense of overwhelm are best buddies and they want to keep you in a static place. What one or two sub-goals can you accomplish that will move you towards the big goal? Breaking the big task into smaller ones makes the final work seem less daunting.
  5. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate!! Research shows that when we acknowledge our forward progress, we build patterns that support long-term success. I ask my clients to reflect on and journal about the small things. Whether the five minute investment, the paragraph written, or the business proposal completed; all of them are small steps toward building self confidence in a way that supports long term success.

Perhaps the best piece of advice, and the one that I try to remember most, is just do it. Do today what you can do today!


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Standardized Tests and College Admission

Understanding Standardized Tests for College Admission

student stress, by cottonbro from PexelsStandardized tests have come to define US education, persisting from elementary school all the way through entrance into graduate school programs. They continue, despite evidence that these tests are flawed, and biased against students of color, English-language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and those who struggle with test anxiety. In the case of college admission, standardized tests have been used as indicators of how successful students will be for the academic environment of that college or university, despite evidence that high school GPA is a better predictor. 

During the spring months of 2020 when everything shut down due to COVID, so did testing.  Testing sites have either remained closed or been cancelled all summer, leaving rising high school seniors without the ability to take the SAT or ACT. The fall isn’t going to be any different. In anticipation of this, colleges and universities have been moving to test-optional for this year’s application cycle. As of August 13, 2020, FairTest – The National Center for Fair and Open Testing reported that three-fifths of all 4-year colleges and universities had moved to test-optional.

But what does test-optional really mean? Should students still try to take standardized tests? And what will happen with standardized tests once COVID goes away?

What does test-optional really mean?

Test-optional isn’t new; colleges and universities have slowly been moving to admitting students without standardized test scores. In practice, this means that students can choose whether or not to submit test scores to be considered as part of their college application. Typically, for test-optional schools, when no scores are submitted, admission officers are looking at other pieces of a student’s application. This includes their high school transcript, the rigor of the courses taken, student activities, demonstrated curiosity, and more. For these students, the college application essays tend to be even more important.

Test scores aren’t used just for admission purposes, however. Many schools use scores to determine merit awards. Schools that have gone test-optional, then, may not use the scores for admission purposes, but they might for awarding institutional scholarships. In other words, if a student doesn’t submit SAT or ACT scores, this may not impact their admission to the college or university, but it could negatively impact their prospect at receiving merit awards to attend that college.

Should students still try to take standardized tests?

The really important part of this for students and families to understand is that every college uses “test-optional” in different ways. It’s critical that as students consider a college, they speak with the admission office about how test scores, or absence of scores, is considered as part of the application review process and the merit award review process. Right now, colleges are modifying their practices, so we’re all having to double check how things are being handled.

With so many schools going test-optional, should students still pursue taking standardized tests? In general, the answer is yes. There’s so much change in what colleges are doing, I would much rather a student have the scores in case they choose a college that requires them for admission and/or merit awards.  

But taking them right now is easier said than done. Because of past cancellations, there are a lot of students backlogged trying to get into the tests. And test sites are closing because of public health considerations. So while I encourage students to pursue taking a test, I recommend it with a very healthy reminder that the test is not the most important part to getting into college or determining their future success.

Colleges and universities know it’s an extremely difficult thing to pursue right now, which is why so many have gone test-optional. So, for high school juniors and seniors, focus on doing well in your courses, and continue to challenge yourself. Find ways to explore your curiosity, and demonstrate the ability to engage in your personal and academic learning despite the challenges around you. This is what colleges will look for instead of, and beyond, test scores. It’s also what will help you be successful in college and life.

What will happen with standardized tests once COVID goes away?

There’s definitely a feeling that we’re shifting away from standardized testing in college admission, at least as a core requirement. There are advocacy and research groups leveraging their voice to work toward ensuring a more equitable and fair college admission process. The professional association I am a member of, the Independent Educational Consultants Association, recently called for all colleges and universities that have gone test-optional this year, to make it permanent and applicable to both admission and merit award decisions. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University has called on colleges to go further and purposefully admit fewer legacy students, while admitting more low-income students, students of color, and students who’ve worked hard to pursue their college dreams, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

If you take away just one thing, let it be this. College admission is an ever-evolving thing, and every college does things a little differently than another. Give yourself ample time to explore college options, career interests, and what will be a good fit for both the student and family. Talk with the admission officers at each school of interest to fully understand what they consider in the admission decision process and the merit award process. Gathering information and using your time wisely will help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of the college journey. 


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Our Story


Thrive Coaching Group LogoCan we tell you how excited we are to be writing this post? We’ve each had days where we weren’t sure where we were headed. Heck, we still have those days! But we are here today, in part because of each other’s ability to listen, coach, challenge, and hold each other accountable.

Our work together didn’t begin with Thrive. In fact, we’ve known each other for over 15 years. In 2016, we found ourselves in the same organization working directly with each other. It was during this time that we really got to know not just what each other did, but how we approached our work. We found that at the core, we worked with individuals to help them find their unique stories and navigate their life’s path.

In 2018, Kate left that organization and launched her own private coaching practice as an independent educational consultant. j launched her coaching practice in 2005. It wasn’t until 2019, when she had the chance to purchase a yoga studio, that her experience and passions came together in a unique space. At the same time, day in and day out, we each found ourselves working largely alone.

We are not going to lie, working alone was really hard and isolated. So in late 2019, we had independently migrated to the local coworking space in town. There, we fell into conversations about each other’s work, challenges, and hopes for our practices. And frankly, they were pretty darn similar. So we started to talk about the what ifs. What if we could have each other’s materials on hand to give to our own clients. What if we could have a referral benefit when clients go from one to the other. And then it dawned on us. What if we combined our practices?

And so it began, slowly. For more than six months, we’ve been asking ourselves and each other what’s important to each of us? Where do we want our work to be five or ten years from now? How do we get there? What we came up with is Thrive Coaching Group. Together, we draw on our individual and combined expertise to provide academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, and transitions coaching. We do this work with individuals and organizations.

Kate brings a background of working with students and adults as they explore their career and educational interests. She’s worked in study abroad, academic success, career exploration, job applications, college and graduate school applications, and writing personal statements for competitive scholarships. j brings a background of organizational development, education, administration and leadership, and life coaching. Both have worked in, and with, organizations leading and supporting their growth as they proactively embrace their strengths to navigate internal and external challenges.

We approach our clients in a holistic fashion. We believe in the richness of the whole person. We value their strengths and identity and believe they have within them all they need to be successful. We believe that everyone has a place they belong, where they are motivated to take on challenging and meaningful experiences with others. As a result, they thrive, as do the organizations, businesses, and communities in which they learn, live and work.

We would be honored to partner with you in whatever way we can help you thrive.

Learn more about us and our coaching services: academic coaching, career coaching, life coaching, transitions coaching.