Great Stories · Reflections · Service · Work

Great Stories Part VII: Being a Friend

S is one of those students that is completely dedicated to College Possible and the people in it, especially since CP supported his brother when he needed it the most.  S is also a naturally friendly, happy, energetic person and is always a fantastic student to talk to.  Whenever I asked if he was willing to have a check-in or participate in student panels, he would respond in a heartbeat and go above and beyond to help us out.  Towards the end of the spring semester, I met with S to check in and see how things for finals were coming along.  However, as soon as we started talking, the conversation took a completely different turn.

S has always been open with me about his personal issues, but this time he definitely just needed some time to get a lot off his chest.  He talked about his family and his motivation to make them proud, the pressure that puts him under, his cognitive dissonance between making his family proud and not feeling like he belongs in college, and how college life has made his relationship with his girlfriend stressful, who clearly means the world to him.  It was almost too much to cover in a single conversation.  At that point, I knew I had to suspend being a college coach with him. We had a very real conversation about everything that was on his mind, from family to relationships to motivation.  I even opened up about my own personal life, which I think was really important for him.

We talked for about an hour before he had to head to class.  Once he left, I stared at my computer screen wondering how I would be able to log this conversation.  As college coaches, we input everything we talk about with a student into our database, but this time it barely felt right, but it was for a good reason. I have had deep conversations with my students, but never ones where I shared nearly as much about myself as I did with S.  With 130 students it can be hard to get on that kind of level.  The conversation with S wasn’t just another coaching session for me. I didn’t feel like I was being a college coach.  I was being a friend.  Our students go through a lot, more than some of us can even comprehend.  While we need to maintain some kind of professional relationship with them, it is also important to hear them, comfort them, and open up to them when they really need it.  That’s what makes College Possible and our jobs so special.

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