Sunday, August 31, 2014

The College Ready Mentality

Okay, welcome to college.  You have your room assignment, your class schedule, your books, and your campus map.  Now what?  Do you just sit back and wait for the 4.0 to happen?  I'm afraid it doesn't work that way but it would be amazing if it did.  No, college is work.  I say this year after year and I'm going to keep saying it until it isn't.  So how do you make college work?  By making the shift from high school student to college student.  I call it the College Ready Mentality.

The College Ready Mentality is a mindset that acknowledges the increased intellectual challenge and level of personal accountability that comes with being a college/university student.  College is hard, and it should be, but it's not impossible.  There are a few things I've identified that can help you make the shift.  They are:

  1. Manage your time:  In college you don't have free time, you have time to manage.  You don't have the same classes every single day and you may not have class all day.  Use the time in between classes to be a good student and either review notes from the last class or prepare for your next class.
  2. Prioritize: Take stock of your activities and be realistic about what you can do in a certain amount of time and how much you have on your plate.  There will be time when you have have to make decisions between one or two activities.  Here's a hint, choose academics.   
  3. Know when to ask for help: At the first sign of difficulty or challenge, go see your professor or teaching assistant.  Don't wait for the night before the exam or the assignment is due to seek assistance.  Get help early and often.  There is no shame in asking.
  4. Know how to ask for help: When you do see your professor or TA, go with specific questions.  Even if you don't know what to ask, take a problem (or outline or essay prompt) that is giving you difficulty and let your professor know where you get stuck.  That will get you so much farther than saying "I don't understand this stuff."
  5. Be accountable: You are responsible for your college education.  You do the work, you make the decisions, and you earn the grades.  Be honest with yourself about how much you are doing and if you are spending the proper amount of time studying (2 hours for each hour in class) and putting forth genuine effort.  You are moving into adulthood and you have to have the tough conversations with your instructors and be real with yourself. 
I'm not saying that college isn't fun, because this really can be the best years of your life.  You just have to remain conscious of why you're there and use your time wisely.  You'll have different experiences, meet different types of people, and learn so many things about yourself it'll be amazing.  You can do it.  And I'll help you along the way.