Creating Academic Support Systems for Success: Story of Oliver P.
" You get handed work left right and center regardless of what is going on in your other classes… college will overwhelm you. You will always be overloaded. Understanding how to take that massive workload and prioritize things and make choices. Making these prioritization points on what will benefit me in the future is what I learned from EFC. "
— Oliver P. —
When Oliver came to EFC, he was overwhelmed and needed a very specific academic support. He needed priority management. Similar to all of the students that came before him, Oliver was faced with one of the most daunting tasks in his life, deciding on a college path that would hopefully lead him to achieving his dreams. It was a task that started as a freshman in high school. He wanted as little academic support from tutors and teachers because he was afraid they would find him difficult to deal with, an idea that shocked the EFC team. To us he was always eager to take on educational strategies and learn from his mistakes. Even with his learning differences, Oliver is tremendously gifted and has an accelerated learning curve. To the EFC team, he was a student that would thrive with the right academic support. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to learn, but more that he wanted to learn everything. He was overwhelmed with choices and with little guidance in priority management, achieving his goal seemed like a distant dream. And so, he came to EFC for some structure in creating his academic support system for this journey he was about to embark on.
At first, providing the academic support Oliver needed was a balance of building rapport and challenging him enough to keep him engaged. Oliver loved working with his hands and science, but he hated writing and the liberal arts. Yet, his whole life, many have praised him in the arts and waved him away from the sciences. He had plenty of confidence in his abilities, so our job was to teach him the priority management skills he needed to manage his goals. EFC worked with Oliver on test prep, college counseling, subject tutoring, and executive functioning. Through it all, the biggest learning curve was helping Oliver recognize the educational strategies that worked for him and when to use them to his advantage. How do we advocate for how we like to be taught? How do we find balance in our schedule? How do we accelerate learning in a way that feels right? Oliver knew he wanted to attend a STEM College and study Materials Engineering, so we strove to model the academic support system he needed to create in college.
Today, Oliver has built a great academic support system at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he is studying to be a materials science engineer. In his first year, he found a home in the Rensselaer MotorSport Club, where he helped construct their yearly F1 race car. Because Oliver knows he wants a career in academic research, he got an early jump as a research assistant testing different materials for braking pads. Everyday, Oliver is using his priority management skills to make the decisions he knows are right for him. Even though Oliver still finds life to be overwhelming at times, he has learned skills to build the right life and academic support systems he needs to succeed.