Congratulations on being selected to be a part of the “You + 1” Program! It’s quite an honor that our student at Santa Monica College has selected YOU to be a “+1” or “coach.”

College isn’t easy. There is a lot to learn, and a whole new world to navigate. Often times, the college road is a bumpy one, and students may feel like they want to give up. That’s where your job comes in. As a “+ 1,” we encourage you to make time to encourage and listen to your student. We know and you know your student can do this, but at times your student is going to need your support, listening ear, reassurance, and inspiration.

Having someone believe in you is a powerful thing. Let your student know how you feel. Talk about your student’s strengths and gifts. Students need help understanding that every process is a journey with ups and downs, successes and failures. This is life, and college is no different. If students want to be successful and achieve their dreams, they have to be willing to fight the fight and pick themselves up when they fall. They also have to take time to celebrate when they succeed – no matter how small the success or gain. Let your student know that you will always be there – to offer an encouraging word, to share a cup of coffee or to listen to hopes and dreams and even fears.

Please remember the wise words of Maya Angelou. It’s not what you will say and it’s not even what you will do, it’s how you will make your student feel. Congratulations again! We are thrilled to have you in the “You + 1” program!

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  


Message 1: Determine your purpose 

Please watch the following YouTube video and consider sharing it with your student.

Kid President has a lot to say! And he’s right – everyone needs a pep talk!

As you begin to talk with your student, it’s important that you encourage thinking about a purpose in life and school. If your student can’t come up with a purpose, you might try asking about hobbies, passions, special skills or what your student likes to do during free time. Why is your student at Santa Monica College? What does your student hope to gain from an experience here? What does your student plan to do after SMC?

Studies show that students who have a purpose or clearly stated goals are much more likely to persevere and be successful in school. If your student is undecided or still exploring, encourage a visit to the SMC Career Services Center and a talk with one of our career counselors. These counselors can help your student identify personal interests and values and match those with SMC majors and career paths.

Ultimately, you want your student to answer the question that Kid President asks, “What will you create that will make the world awesome?!”


Message 2: Perseverance: Cross the finish line with your student

Please watch the following YouTube video and consider sharing it with your student.


There will undoubtedly be times when your student wants to give up. Perhaps it will be when the first paper gets returned or a mid-term doesn’t go as planned. This is all part of the college experience. What sets successful students apart from other students is their ability to persevere, to “power through” and not give up. Encouraging words from you will help. Help your student understand that progress happens “inch by inch,” and then ultimately the game is won.

Helping students find useful resources will also help them reach the finish line. Perhaps your student could benefit from talking with a professor or seeking out tutoring or supplemental instruction. Maybe a study group is the answer, or perhaps reducing outside obligations such as work or caring for siblings. Your student might want to consider attending a “student success workshop” or discussing any concerns with an academic counselor. Plus there is always help available from you. Help your student cross the finish line!



Message 3: Growth Mindset: Reframing Your Failures

A Growth Mindset: Means that you believe intelligence can be developed. 

Have you ever wondered why two people who are seemingly equal in talent or intelligence fare differently in life? According to Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford University, people’s beliefs about their traits and how they deal with challenges and failures play a huge role in whether people are successful or not.

In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Dweck, suggests that having a “growth mindset” and not a “fixed mindset” can help students become more successful. According to Dweck (2006):

“In a fixed mindset, students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. In a growth mindset, students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”

At this point in the semester, students may be experiencing failure or challenges in their courses. How students perceive the failure or challenge may influence their outcome in the course. For example, students with a fixed mindset may approach a “D” grade on a math test by believing “I’m not smart” or “I’m not a math person, so why should I even try?” These students are likely to provide excuses for not putting in more effort in studying and completing homework assignments. These students are likely to give up. Students with a growth mindset would view the “D” as an opportunity to develop their skills and improve and learn from their mistakes. The poor grade would motivate these students to work harder.

How can you, as a +1, help foster a “growth mindset” in your student:

One way to help your student develop a “growth mindset” is to focus on the process, and not the student, when providing feedback. For example, if your student received a good grade on a term paper, you can say, “Your term paper turned out amazing. I loved how you developed an outline before you began writing,” instead of saying “Your term paper turned out amazing. You’re a genius!” If your student received a poor grade on the paper, you can say, “There’s room to improve. Let’s discuss what steps you need to take in order to learn and improve for next time,” instead of “You’re just not good at writing.”

Resources on Growth Mindset:

MindSET Online
YouTube: Dr. Carol Dweck on Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets
EducationWorld: How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success?


Personal Responsibility: Seek Help Before It’s Too Late

Please watch the following YouTube video and consider sharing it with your student.

You can help your student be proactive about grades!

Faculty often hear their students say, “I’m worried about my grade.” Students need to be proactive and start talking with their professors in person early in the semester. Most faculty are willing and even enjoy talking with their students outside of class.

Students also need to read the course syllabus and get a solid understanding of course expectations including the grading process and absence policy set by each teacher. Students should also regularly attend class, do their required homework, revise papers or re-take exams when given the opportunity, and ask for help or clarification when needed – before it’s too late!


Procrastination: Get the now habit!

Please watch the following YouTube video and consider sharing it with your student.

According to an article in Psychology Today, everyone procrastinates sometimes, but at least 20% of the population chronically avoids difficult tasks and looks for distractions. Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, and for some that may be true. For most, it’s a way of justifying their procrastination.

Talk to your student about effectively managing time. Time management is a skill that’s critical to success in school and life. For students to effectively manage their time, they must understand that for every unit of coursework they should plan to spend at least 2 hours outside of class studying, preparing for exams, reading, writing, and working on projects and/or assignments.

A full load of classes at SMC is 12 units and, in general, will require a 36 hour time commitment each week. Talk to your student about this as well as finding a balance in life that includes time for health and well-being. Perhaps the interactive time management chart found by clicking on the link below will be useful to you and your student.

SMC Time Management Chart


Help is on the way!

Santa Monica College has long held the belief that for students to be successful inside the classroom, there must be strong support outside the classroom. Whether your student needs to talk with an academic counselor, get a tutor, find a job or receive psychological support – there’s always someone or someplace to turn for help. Click on the link below to find a list of helpful on-campus resources for your student.

SMC College Resources


How to be yourself

Please watch the following YouTube video and consider sharing it with your student.

It’s not easy being a college student, but it is easy to lose perspective about what’s really important in life and what it takes to be happy. No matter what your student chooses to do, we all start by “showing up.” Along the way we will have to “face many fears” and be “open to new ideas.” From time to time, your student will need reminders from you to “lighten up,” “follow his or her heart,” and “maintain a sense of wonder.”

The messages in this video are simple but powerful. Share them with your student.



Please watch the following video:

There will be days when your student simply needs to vent, and you will need to be there to listen. Your student has most likely selected you as their “+1” because you have empathy, and your student feels a connection to you. When they need you, be there – with open arms, a listening ear, and perhaps a scoop of ice cream!


Spring is in the air!

Spring Fever

The end of the semester is now rapidly approaching, and it’s not uncommon for many students this time of year to have a bad case of spring fever. Now would be a good time to take your student out for ice cream or coffee and help them see that the end is in sight and within reach. Give them a pep talk! Motivate them to make a final push to get to that finish line!



"It’s good to have an end in mind but in the end what counts is how you travel.” ― Orna Ross 


It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday college life.  The life of a college student is a busy one, and your student is no different.  There are things to read, exams for which to prepare, deadlines to meet, courses to take, rules to remember, requirements to meet, and endless expectations.  This is especially true at the end of a semester.  Talk to your student about being “mindful,” or being aware of the journey they are on. 

This is a very special time in the life of your student.  Encourage them to breathe deeply, slow down, pay attention to their health, and in the words of Eckhart Tolle, find happiness in the “simple, seemingly unremarkable things.”  Now might be a good time to take a walk with your student, watch a sunset, or listen to the ocean waves crash at the beach.   Talk to your student and really listen.  Get them to be present…and aware…and mindful of their travels.

Drawing by Patrick McDonnell


It's finally finals!

Finals for most students are a stressful time. Make sure you check in to see how he or she is doing. Now might be a good time to take your student to a local Starbucks to enjoy a favorite drink and discuss an approach to the week:

- Help your student develop a timeline, schedule and strategy for preparation, studying and successfully completing finals.

- Talk about how best to review and retain information. For some, that will mean organizing study groups. For others, that will mean blocks of time alone. Help your student determine an approach that works for him or her.

- Sleep is critical to performing well. Check in to make sure your student is getting enough rest.

- Help your student find a way to stay calm and manage anxiety through the week. Click here for some suggested approaches.

- When finals are over, celebrate! Completing a semester of college is an accomplishment that should be commended.


Living a meaningful life

Please click on the link below and read the article that appeared in The Atlantic:

“There’s More to Life Than Being Happy” by Emily Esfahani Smith

The You + 1 program would like to thank you for being a +1. Whether you know it or not, you have made all the difference for your student. You have provided support, encouragement, direction and reassurance. You have given valuable tips and meaningful solutions. Most importantly, you have been there for your student, cheering all along the way.

Hopefully, this experience has also been interesting and enjoyable for you – and, perhaps, given your life some meaning. It’s true that most things in life “take a village,” and we’d like to thank you once again for being a part of your student’s village. Together, we can make a difference!