The University of Otago offers its postgraduate students one-on-one personal performance and development coaching.
A quietly-spoken Scotsman, Brian Johnston, is our coach and works to help students surmount seemingly insurmountable challenges.
“Many postgraduate students achieved high grades in their undergraduate studies but struggle once they embark upon postgraduate study,” Brian says.
As postgraduates the challenges of self-directed learning, self-discipline and effectively being accountable only to themselves, can seriously impact upon the student's ability to progress their studies.
“Periods of procrastination, indulging in pleasant distractions such as social networking, perfectionism and the avoidance of regular academic writing, are some of the 'self-sabotaging behaviour patterns' characterised by postgraduate students.”
“One in five of us are chronic procrastinators producing symptoms of depression, obsessive compulsive behaviour, stress, anxiety and disturbed sleep patterns. Periods of sleep deprivation can produce irritability and affect our relationships with others. Negative self- talk such as 'I'm useless!' or 'what made me think I could do a PhD?' exacerbates the situation.”
This is where Brian can help…
He looks at all aspects of a student's life, from their sleep, cultural values, and relationships, and works with them to set achieveable goals and small changes which, combined with a series of tools can set them back on a positive path.
“Students tend to come and see me for, on average, three sessions. By then some students will have created the structure they need to progress their studies.
“Others may require more sessions and others may arrange to come back and see me periodically as a kind of 'warrant of fitness'. He or she just needs a “check-up” or “fine tuning”. Once reassured they're on the right path to completion, the student can continue on their postgraduate journey.”
Brian's services are just one of the reasons Otago has a high completion rate for its postgraduate students.