(#166) It Takes More than Academics to Succeed in College

I address this week’s blog post directly to college students.
If you know one—especially a first-year or first-generation college student—
please, pass this along.

Nearly two decades ago, a math colleague of mine (Florida State College at Jacksonville, Downtown Campus) passed along a nugget of wisdom that I still remember.  On morning, we shared some of the struggles and challenges many of our students were facing on a daily basis.  While many of the students lacked basic academic skills, all of them had non-academic challenges to address; challenges that presented obstacles to their progress.  My colleague simply stated, “Steve, we teach so much more than math (history, English, or science).”

How true, then—and today. Back on December 9, 2012, I posted advice from my students about how to succeed in college.  You will see that their suggestions focused on basic (non-cognitive) life skills.  And the colleges and universities I have been working with over the past few months consistently asked me to address non-cognitive (“non-academic”) skills that students need to master.

This week, I address my blog directly to college students. If you know one—especially a first-year or first-generation college student—please, pass this along.

Image: phanlop88/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: phanlop88/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are no shortcuts when it comes to academic standards.  You have to know how to read, prepare for tests, complete tests, take notes, and glean main points from class lessons.  Basic study skills will help you reach your goal of graduation. You, also, need to pay attention to the following four interrelated areas for personal development. I will follow-up on these in my free webinar on August 5.

Relationships. Your success in large part will be affected by the relationships you build in and out of the classroom.  John Maxwell (leadership expert) has said that we rise to the conversations around us.  Pay attention to the conversations around you. Run from those people who pepper you with defeatist and negative talk.

  • “Audition” or “interview” your classmates. Not in a formal way.  Rather, pay attention to the students in your classes.  Look for clues as to who seems to “get” the content; who appears to be diligent; and who acts in a civil manner. Start this on day one of the semester,
  • Find an advisor/counselor and develop a working relationship—early.
  • Locate your professor’s offices the first week of classes. Know where they “live” on campus.  Make it a point to visit each one at least once before the end of the 2nd week of school. Be on the lookout for mentors.

Resources. You will never be in another place in your life where there are SO MANY resources dedicated to your success. Your college may have opportunities such as tutoring, financial aid, career counseling, disability services, veteran services, programs for displaced or at-risk populations, exercise programs, childcare, workshops on financial planning, and community services to name a few.  You have to do two things, however:

  • You have to know about them
  • You have to use them.

Video recommendation for the week:

Priority Management.   Remember, you cannot manage time.  What you can do—and must do—is manage your priorities. By the end of your first week of classes do, at least, the following:

  • Transfer all of your due dates (assignments, quizzes, tests, special projects) from your syllabi to your calendar.  Don’t have a calendar? Get one (paper or electronic).
  • Identify what your non-negotiables are—those things that you will not compromise away. The things you will always make sure to address. Place these on your calendar.
  • Get rid of three words: Try, But and Can’t.  They are demotivators and will take you away from your priorities.

Personal Well-being. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you do not maintain a sense of balance, how will you be able to reach your goals?

  • What are you doing to maintain your dimensions of well-being?
  • Make your well-being part of your non-negotiables—and block out time on your weekly priority management list.
  • Your relationships and campus resources can help (see above).

Success is the product of small yet consistent choices you make and do each day. You don’t “start college” the first day you walk on campus. Get ready before the first day of classes.  Consider the four areas above; make a goal in each area today. Develop a plan, today. Get your “game face” on.

Make it the best semester of your life!

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

On August 5, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: It Takes More than Academics to Succeed in College.   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli

About stevepiscitelli

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3 Responses to (#166) It Takes More than Academics to Succeed in College

  1. Toby, Kimberly L (Somerset) says:

    Hi Steve,

    We have adopted your textbook “Study Skills: Do I Really Need this Stuff?” for the Fall 2013. I have looked on the Pearson Website for a test bank and have asked my Sales Representative. She said she does not have one. I was wondering if there is one available with the text and if perhaps you might share?

    Thank you,

    Kim Toby
    Assistant Professor
    Student Success
    Somerset Community College
    808 Monticello Street
    Somerset, KY 42501
    Direct Phone: 606-451-6658

    Higher Education Begins Here!


    • Hi, Kimberly. Thanks for the note. I believe that the test banks are withing the MSSL platform(?) I will send an email for information–and will cc you on that email. I do not have a test bank. 😦 Let me see what I can find for you.


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