When I first started my company a very successful entrepreneur who wrote several books on the subject asked me what I do. When I told him I’m an academic coach he looked at me like I was speaking Mandarin. “An academic coach? What’s that?” He advised me to change the name from Academic Coaching Associates to something people could understand without having to launch into a 15-minute explanation. Being brand new to this “business thing,” I seriously considered it. I thought about different ways to say what I do so people would “get it” such as tutor, education consultant or education therapist, but in the end I discounted each one.
I work directly with students so education consultant was out (although education consulting is one of the services I offer, it is not the focus of my business), and education therapist sounded like I would be trying to pass myself off as a psychology expert.
I am not a tutor because tutors are subject specific. Parents hire them to reteach skills and/or concepts in algebra, Spanish, chemistry, etc. If your kid is having a hard time in calculus, but doing well in other classes, don’t call me. Or, call me and I will give you the name of a great math tutor.
But, if your kid has grades that are falling or lower than expected, needs to learn study skills, has Executive Function issues, is not turning in homework, or can be seen running down the hallway at school late for class and leaving a trail of papers in his or her wake, call me. If your child has ADHD, performs well in class but consistently earns low grades on tests and quizzes, or need to learn to self-advocate, call me.
In order to explain academic coaching, I often use the sports coach analogy. A football coach will teach skills and strategies. A good coach inspires players to do better than they think they can, gets them to believe in themselves, and helps them learn from their set backs. Athletic coaches prepare players for maximum performance on the field, just as academic coaches prepare students for optimal academic performance.
So, in the end I did not take this extremely successful entrepreneur’s advice and went with my gut. Sure, I have to explain what I do more than I would like and many people still refer to me as a tutor but that’s fine with me. I try to educate them because education is my thing.