Thoughts on the ocean, the environment, the universe and everything from nearly a mile high.

Panorama of The Grand Tetons From the top of Table Mountain, Wyoming © Alan Holyoak, 2011

Friday, February 10, 2012

Three secrets to success in college

I have been teaching biology at the college and university level for 20 years.  As I look back over my time as a student and professor I have discovered the secret to success in college.  That success can be boiled down to three rules that, when followed consistently, will help a student be successful in their college career.  I'll list those in just a bit.

Most new students start their college academic careers with excitement and enthusiasm, as they should.  This is, after all, one of the most exciting, enjoyable, and challenging times in their lives.

If a student has not learned what it means to be a serious student, or they fall into bad study and personal habits they can quickly be reduced to sadness, depression, and academic failure.  No one wants this!

A student's realization that they are headed down a slippery slope toward failure often comes too late to make changes that can save a course grade or even an entire semester.  But, if a student learns and applies the following three rules from day one, their likelihood of success in college will be greatly increased.

  1. Complete all assigned reading for a class BEFORE the class in which that material is scheduled to be covered.
  2. Go to class all the time - NEVER miss class, no matter what!
  3. Do homework and hand it in ON TIME - no excuses!
Yep, that's it.  None of these rules is new or revolutionary - it's just common sense.  I realize that the simplicity of these rules may even be insulting to some people, yet semester after semester, year after year, I see students who routinely even habitually break one or more of these rules, to their self-destruction.  It's enough to make me weep!

When my daughter and then my son prepared to leave home to start college I shared these rules with them.  Before I told them the secret (i.e., rules for success) I told them that they were simple and straightforward.  Fortunately, both of them are doing their best to follow these rules, and they have done very well so far.

I also told my son that if he kept his eyes open he would probably see students everywhere who didn't do these basic things.  When he came home for a visit last November I asked him how the rules were working for him, and if he ever saw students who didn't follow them.  He was shocked and amazed at the number of students who didn't do their reading, who didn't bother to attend class, and/or who didn't hand homework in on time or even at all.

Trust me...these guidelines work.  This isn't like those "how to lose belly-fat without dieting" kind of secrets, this is a set of guidelines that when applied as a student works hard they will be much more successful than they would be otherwise.  These guidelines cannot guarantee that a student will earn an "A" in a class, but I am confident in saying that I can guarantee that they will pass their classes and do as well as they can if they at least follow the three rules consistently.  

College is an exciting and challenging time.  These guidelines will help students navigate their college careers to successful conclusions.  I dare you to try them!  Dare to be impressive; dare to be successful! Dare to be happy!

(Originally posted 7-21-2011)


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