Billy, a 9th grader suffering from a lack of study skills, poor time management, and academic underachievement
Hear Billy's story
What happens when the rigors of demanding classes on an intelligent 8th grader finally catch up with chronic procrastination, lack of structure, and poor study skills?
Watch the video below to hear Billy’s incredible story of how he went from being on a rapidly deteriorating personal and academic trajectory in 9th grade to graduating from a prestigious preparatory high school with a 4.25 GPA and earning his school’s Unsung Hero award for his graduating class.
Read more details about Billy’s coaching results below.
Billy is a charismatic and intelligent 9th grader who loves sports and playing video games. Before engaging with GEL, Billy’s mindset was very simple: time spent in school was for school, and time spent after school was for having fun and relaxing. While this mindset served him well throughout most of middle school, he was clearly unprepared for the increased rigors of honors classes by the time he reached 8th grade at his demanding prep school. His lack of structure upon coming home after school and his lack of study skills resulted in a rapid decline in academic performance and plummeting self-confidence. His relationship with his parents also deteriorated, which created a negative dynamic at home.
Billy’s procrastination and lack of study skills created a downward spiral of poor academic performance.
Lack of structure
Billy’s mindset that time spent after school was for him to do as he pleased meant that he often overindulged in video games, TV, and social media. When he did schoolwork at home, he would procrastinate and start so late in the evening that he would only get through a little of his work before bedtime.
Homework and projects were completed based on a perceived “fun factor” with little regard to necessity. This resulted in mounting missing assignments that had a significant and negative impact on his learning and academic performance. His grades would have been much worse if his teachers had not been so accommodating with accepting late work.
Poor Study Skills
Billy’s high intelligence was used as a crutch to avoid studying for exams. As a result, he had no strategies to rely on when the rigor of his subjects required outside studying beyond what was taught in the classroom. This inevitably resulted in poor test scores, including in subjects where Billy had historically excelled.
Seeing the rapid downward spiral of his grades and feeling helpless to do anything about it shook Billy’s confidence and belief in himself. He went from seeing himself as a “smart” student to thinking something was wrong with him. This, unfortunately, resulted in behaviors that were used to hide his declining performance from his parents, which only brought on feelings of shame and guilt.
Solution For Billy
Billy’s mindset about academics needed to shift if he was going to succeed in school. He also needed to rapidly level up his study skills to meet the increased demands of his academic classes.
Billy and his coach worked to challenge his belief that time spent after school is strictly discretionary time to have fun and relax. Billy also gained clarity around his priorities regarding academics and his future.
Billy developed new habits and routines for completing schoolwork and began using video games and social media to reward successful task completion. He created daily start times for when to begin schoolwork as a means to prevent his brain from telling him to simply “do the work later.”
Billy expressed an interest in becoming more physically active as his doctor observed he was slightly overweight for his age. Having learned to plan ahead and be more intentional with his time, Billy turned his attention to reducing his screen time and being more physically active.
Billy began using a daily action plan that contained the tasks he agreed to complete and the specific days he agreed to complete them. Billy would then check off his progress toward completing his tasks in the action plan each day.
Develop Advanced Study Skills
Having shifted his mindset about how to use his time after school, Billy also came to terms with the fact that the days of not studying for exams and expecting to earn good grades were over. He learned how to identify the main ideas that would most likely be on exams and then developed advanced study skills to learn those concepts in preparation for tests and quizzes.
Using the action plan created multiple layers of accountability as Billy would hold himself accountable for what he agreed to do, and it allowed Billy’s coach to act as his accountability partner. Billy attributes much of his success to the accountability provided by academic coaching.
I maintained my grades well after ending coaching and 2.5 years later I finished my senior year with a 4.25 weighted GPA. - Billy
2.70 GPA he earned the previous semester.
Billy worked with his coach for 3 semesters when he exited from practice at the close of the fall semester of his sophomore year in high school. As a testament to the longevity of the results from academic coaching with GEL, almost 2.5 years after services ended, Billy finished his senior year with a 4.25 GPA.
The structure Billy created to overcome procrastination and ensure deadlines were completed on time meant missing and late assignments became a thing of the past. While his test scores in 8th grade included B’s, C’s, and D’s, after working with his coach, they were replaced with mostly A’s and the occasional B. His low self-esteem was replaced by a strong belief and confidence in himself that he could successfully deal with any academic situation that came his way.
Billy replaced his old mindset that time after school was strictly reserved for having fun with a new mindset that a balanced approach between school and play would serve him best in the long run. Today, Billy prides himself on his strong work ethic. His parents also report he is much happier, which is what they truly wanted all along.
Success can be addictive, and Billy’s new appreciation for self-improvement extended beyond academics. He decided to heed his doctor’s advice, increase his physical activity, and improve his self-care. He finished high school weighing 15 pounds less than he did as a freshman while having grown several inches.