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Setting and reaching goals that matter

Blazing a trail for new scholars

Blazing a trail for new scholars

How to Become an Academic Coach: What you Need to Know by Mary Beth Averill and Hillary Hutchinson. CreateSpace independent Publishing Platform; First Edition edition 2014 (162pp).

Anyone who knows either Mary Beth or Hillary will not be surprised to see how clearly and frankly they lay it on the line in this plainspoken, but thoughtful joint effort. Available in either paperback or Kindle format How to Become an Academic Coach reflects the decades of experience as writers, academics and academic writing coaches these authors variously share. 
 
In their closing chapter, “The Solopreneur Life,” the authors remind us they are also self reliant independent business women. After listing the typical downside of the entrepreneurial lifestyle (irregular business cycles, multiple demanding roles, continuous rebalancing) they list the pros. Flexibility and creative opportunity head the list, but they close with these heartfelt words for the individuals they serve, “…the clients for an academic coach are some of the most creative, interesting, and cutting edge researchers that it is a privilege to work with and know personally.” Implicit in any such labor of love is this brand of heartfelt empathy. 
 
What else does an academic coach need to know or be? It doesn’t hurt to have subject matter expertise in the fields one’s clients are versed in and certainly the experience of being a published scholar oneself would be a big asset. Many academic coaches are also skilled editors and knowing how dissertation supervisors think is undoubtedly beneficial. Yet just as in athletics, where the best players are not always capable of drawing the best from the team, academic coaches need not be high flyers with impressive lists of credits or letters from storied institutions after their names. They should be skilled in life coaching fundamentals and adept at adapting their skillsets to academic settings. Awareness of the peculiarities of academic life would serve them well as would an appreciation of cognitive process, motivation and brain science.
How to Become an Academic Coach: What you Need to Know is not a step by step how-to book, nor is it a feel good fable designed to recruit battalions of new academic coaches. The authors are at pains to emphasize that not everyone, not every coach is destined to be an academic coach. Often the academic coach’s task is to wean the client away from the ivy covered walls either for career or mental health reasons. The words “recovering academic”, although they do not appear anywhere in this book, seem appropriate for such cases. Academic life like academic coaching is not for the fainthearted. Nonetheless, when the match is right, both coach and scholar will recognize their callings. 

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