These strategies can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?)
stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.
Last week, on a local TV morning show, I shared strategies to help college students adjust to their schedules and demands on and beyond campus. If you or someone you know will be walking on to campus soon, consider these four suggestions for success.
- Meaningful and authentic relationships provide a foundation. You probably have heard of P.A.C.s—Political Action Committees. I encourage students to form an educational P.A.C. of sorts. Not the kind that raises money for political candidates. Rather, one that helps them adjust and thrive in their school community. As soon as possible (first week), reach out to at least one person in each of the following groups:
- Professors. Send an email. Stop by their offices. Quickly and politely introduce yourself. Ask a pertinent question or offer a comment that shows you have done a bit of research about the course. This allows the professor to put a face and name together. This ice-breaking/community–building strategy can work for graduate assistants you may have, as well. Be proactive in establishing an authentic relationship.
- Advisers. These folks know the system. They can help students navigate financial aid and scholarship availability. They know the ins and outs of scheduling and core curriculum requirements. An adviser can connect students with both academic resources (like tutoring and study groups) and non-academic resources (like counseling and transportation issues). Some schools may assign a specific adviser or counselor. In other situations the student may be able to choose her own. Get to know this person as soon as practical.
- Classmates. Audition your classmates. In this context, to “audition” means to “observe.” During the semester you may be asked to join a study group or form a team for a semester project for one or more classes. When possible, choose wisely. During the first few weeks of class notice which of classmates come to class late or leave early, come to class on time and stay through the entire class. Who participates and who seems distracted by technology? Who is sleeping in the back of the classroom? Simple and poignant question: “Who do I want to depend upon in a group setting?” This may be a great workplace skill to cultivate in your future.
- Disconnections. Identify your top five personal priorities for the semester. Write them down. They could be tied to health, a college major, roommates, or something else of importance and relevance to life. At the end of your week, write down the top five activities that took most of the time that week. Compare them to the priorities list. Connected or disconnected? The priorities list represents the stories you tell ourselves. The action list represents the stories you live. Maybe your P.A.C. (above) can help sort things out.
- Your Future Self. You may or may not know with specificity where you are headed. You might be a bit (a lot) confused. To help your future self, I encourage you to stay curious. You want to find a major—a career—to pursue? Rather than force yourself to “find your passion” why not find what you are curious about? Stay curious about your courses—even those that seem totally remote from what you find interesting. Stay curious about events and issues around campus. Once you discover that curiosity start to develop that area of your life. Who knows where it may lead? Your priorities may change. Pay attention to “weak signals” of what may be in the future.
- Seven Core Values for Success. All of the above tie into seven key interlocking and guiding principles for life success. At the least, they provide a compass to help in times of difficulties and challenge.
- Surround yourself with relationships that will help you grow as a person. Find and use resources that have relevance for your journey toward your rainbows—your dreams and aspirations. You will have a lot of stuff (how’s that for a technical term—stuff?) coming your way. Set aside time for frequent reflection about what you are doing, why you are doing it, an adjustments you need to make. Remain curious! Finally, act with responsibility toward others as well as your own self-care and resilience.
Success is the product of small yet consistent choices we all make and do (or don’t do) each day. The four suggestions above can help students (and, after all, aren’t we all students?) stay the course, continue their journey, and enjoy growth and resilience.
Video Recommendation for the Week:
Here is the link to my TV interview in which I discuss the above points. One key takeaway: Be proactive in creating community–whether it is on a college campus, in your workplace, or in the neighborhood.
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.