Free life coaches help students set goals, priorities


Photo courtesy of Pam Nussbaumer

Triplets Nate, Jake and Ben Nussbaumer (left to right) say working with life coaches helped them set short-term and long-term goals.

Dominic Salacki, Reporter

Students who struggle with setting goals and creating better habits can get some help from professors who are also life coaches—for free. 

Approximately 150 full-time and part-time AACC faculty and staff members are also trained as engagement and life coaches and can meet virtually with students who need advice or help with study skills or time management, or “to get some clarity about their life goals and life directions, according to Jen Lara, who helps train the coaches. 

Third-year hotel and restaurant management student Benjamin Nussbaumer and his brothers Jacob and Nathaniel have all worked with life coaches. 

Benjamin said his parents pushed him to find a coach to help him set “short-term goals like studying and long-term goals, like what do I want to do for my career,” he said.”I had been thinking about getting a coach since the pandemic started. I wish I [had a coach] sooner because it’s useful.” 

Nussbaumer said it’s helpful to talk to someone besides family and to hear alternative viewpoints. 

But coaching is not the same as therapy or counseling, according to Lara. “In coaching, we focus on the present moment and future whereas in therapy and counseling, often times, you dip back into the past,” she explained. 

“One of the goals we had set was to get back into school mode, like school first [and] then play. That really helped me, said Nussbaumer, who met with his coach once a week for 45 minutes for three weeks.  

“I feel like after the three [appointments] I got everything that I wanted to get out of it,” Nussbaumer said. “It was very usefulI’m glad I did it.” 

His brother, third-year graphic and web design student Jacob Nussbaumer, called his experience with a coach“encouraging and supportive.” 

“[Coaching] helped reinforce my values, he said. “It gave me clarity about my goals and it helped me better understand who I am,” he  said. 

Meeting times for coaching sessions were “flexible” and “convenient, he added. 

A third brother, 2020 graduate Nathaniel Nussbaumer,said his coach helped him come up with a plan for his future. 

“After identifying time management as something that I wanted to improve, my coach taught me several techniques to [help],” he said. “We talked about how I could find an internship, finish my degree and move into the workforce.” 

All three brothers recommended that other students get a coach. 

Coaches said they get a lot out of helping students. 

“Becoming a coach, for me, was life changing,” adjunct instructor Cindy Gambone said. 

Adjunct instructor Zia Hassan said he launched his own coaching practice after Lara inspired him to pursue coaching. 

“I do plan to continue being a coach,” Hassan said. 

To get matched with a coach for free, students, faculty and employees can email Lara.