Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Rick Cassar, CEO and Founder of Life Coach Rick. He specializes in helping first-time college students stay in college, succeed in college, and to develop strategies that turn into habits that lead to happy, successful, and fulfilling lives.
Please tell us more about your journey.
Many years ago, I started as a community college counselor working with students who did not qualify for admission to most universities as freshmen. I found that proper a combination of class selection to include my College Success course, time management, values clarification, and goal setting, along with regular mentoring was helping these students to not only be successful at the community college level but to be able to transfer to top-notch universities and graduate within 2 years after transferring.
In fact, I used my experience to help my own daughter, who was very close to not graduating from high school. She didn’t apply to any universities and her “life goal” was to stay in her room and play “Splatoon” until she was 30. Now, while she was a pretty good gamer with a passion for anime and all things Japanese, her mom and I had aspirations that were a little bit higher. So, we coaxed her to enroll at our local community college, take a Japanese course and a little General Ed and go from there. Three years later, she found herself transferred to the University of California, San Diego. She spent her junior year studying Japanese history and language on campus in La Jolla and her senior year studying abroad at the prestigious Keio University in Tokyo. Five years out of high school, she was graduating from UCSD with a 3.7 GPA. Now, this is a girl who almost didn’t finish high school and, within 5 years, she has a BA Degree, a 3.7 University GPA, and is living and working in Japan. These were dreams she never believed she could attain. But with proper guidance, she overcame the imposter syndrome and is living the life of her dreams. In fact, this morning, we FaceTimed with her in Tokyo, and I have never seen her so happy.
Contrast this with students I have worked with who we call reverse transfers. They were back at the community college because they didn’t make it at the university. One was the Valedictorian of her high school class. She graduated with a 4.6 GPA and was accepted at a University of California campus far from home. Another was accepted at Notre Dame University as a freshman. Both came to me after their college GPA had dropped more than 1.5 full grade points in college. I was able to intervene and help get them both back on track. I have seen so many students who did so well in high school only to be overwhelmed at the university level. Community college works for some. In fact, I highly recommend it, especially in states like California. But let’s face it, there are tens of thousands of students, counselors, and parents out there who believe that students who work hard for 12 years should be rewarded by moving away to college. Many make it but, unfortunately, about 30% experience difficulty with the competition, homesickness, time management, partying too much, or other distractions. Some get it together in time, but I see so much wasted potential when high achieving students experience distractions. That’s why I decided to start ‘Life Coach Rick.’
So tell us, what do you do that is unique?
I have spoken with so many broken-hearted students and parents who have spent between $15,000 and $60,000 for a year of college only to learn that the grades were not up to par and that they would remain on transcripts FOREVER. In every case, they say, “I wish I would have met with you sooner.” Our system is not magical, but it seems that way when you realize that less than two hours a week can make the difference between college success and failure. We offer assignments each week that take no more than an hour to complete because we know students’ time is valuable. Then, we offer accountability in terms of weekly check-ins. The system is simple, but when students buy-in and follow the lead of experienced counselors like myself, the results are life-changing.
What inspired you to start ‘Life Coach Rick.’
I worked as a counselor at 4 different community colleges over the past 30 years and served as the Department Chair of Counseling for 14 of those years. Six years ago, I was elected to serve on the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees and am currently serving my second term as President of the Board. All this gives me insight into what makes a successful college student. I witnessed it as a student myself, as a counselor helping students, and now as an administrator witnessing the programs being developed to allow for student success. I think that community colleges are doing some amazing things. But, I understand why many students want to go directly to universities out of high school instead. My aim is to deliver that one-on-one service to these university students to help them overcome obstacles they face as young adults away from home for the first time. Facing stiff competition from their peers and negotiating the balance between the freedom they are experiencing and the rigor of college studies. I want my influence to be that link that will help them to be successful in college and in life.
Do you have any final thoughts to share?
Yes, thanks for asking. First, college isn’t the only way to be successful in life. I know many people who earn good livings and lead happy and fulfilling lives who never graduated from college. The key, in my humble opinion, is to find a career that brings you joy and fulfillment, provides enough money and free time to allow you to enjoy life and to create a life in which you feel that life is worth living. To get there, you need to clarify your values and to prioritize what is important to you and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to get there.
What is heartbreaking is that some students who had such promising potential out of high school and don’t make it in college get caught up in self-doubt, anxiety, and even depression. We tend to see life in black and white terms, success and failure, but by clarifying our values and not being afraid to start again, even in a different direction, we can turn even negative experiences into positive learning experiences. That is why we promote success in college and in life. I hate to see any potential wasted, especially if a few minor tweaks can make a major impact on people’s lives.
So here is my plea: If you, a loved one, or someone you know has worked hard all their lives to gain admission to a university and are finding it difficult. Let me talk to them. There is no reason to feel bad about themselves, to fail, or to drop out. If they desire to succeed in college and are willing to give me 2 hours a week of honest work, I can help them get back on the right track. I offer a free consultation, and sometimes that is all they need. If they sign up for my program, I will give them assignments, mentoring, and weekly check-ins before and throughout the college term. I have seen this work with thousands of students, and I am confident that together we can get back on track and progress towards a successful college career.
Fantastic! So tell us, how can people find out more about you?
Thank you so much for giving us your precious time! We wish you the best for your journey ahead!