Everyone who wants to be successful follows or creates a guide to reach that success. Reaching success in college– doing well academically, graduating on time and setting oneself up for prime career options– is no different. Students who enjoy great college careers have fun outside the classroom while creating and following a solid guide for academic and social success.
Here are suggestions that can help every college freshman, regardless of his or her background, set up and enjoy a fulfilling and fun college experience.
1. Thou shall begin with the end in mind. This is one time it’s good to be backwards. Write down your ultimate goals in life, post it where you will see it every day, and figure out the first steps you need to take in college to achieve those goals. One great step you can take now is to attend class regardless of how boring it is. Sitting in a boring class isn’t a death sentence. All of us college graduates have done it. *smile*
2. Thou shall seek to understand what makes thy professors tick. Professors remember the students who engage in class discussions because professors love active class participation. Not attending or showing little interest in class gives the professor a clear indication that you have no interest in competing for the best grades. Professors don’t “give” grades, by the way; you earn them. The higher your grades, the greater your earning potential in scholarships and salaries.
3. Thou shall sit down, shut up, and listen. I went to a strict high school with very successful alumni; and I always say the school’s secret has been its ability to get the students to sit down, shut up, and listen. Mastering those three things helps you develop focus and discipline, two major keys to success. Regardless of your aptitude, you will learn anything from anybody if you follow those three simple steps.
4. Thou shall visit thy career center or counselor early. Start building your college résumé as soon as you hit campus. Juice it up with a great GPA, student activities, community service, and internship and/or employment experience. The key to success in student activities, by the way, is to do quality work even if you join just one organization.
5. Thou shall be aware of your social media presence. I love social media as much as anyone else but posting every thought doesn’t bring the best results. Somewhere on your campus or in the workforce is someone who will not allow the image of his or her organization to be compromised by someone who feels compelled to drop F- and N-bombs for the world to see. And please spare us decision makers the “It’s my business” argument. If it were truly your business, you wouldn’t share it with everyone on the World Wide Web.
6. Thou shalt not follow students who crave attention. Some people are popular just to be popular and those types of people can be negative influences. Their negativity affects you in more ways than you realize. Ask yourself how their popularity will help you achieve your goals and if following them is worth it.
7. Thou shall learn the power of diversity, service, and leadership. Diversity is all about understanding how a person’s uniqueness makes him or her great. The more you embrace diversity, the more you want to serve people. The more you serve people, the better a leader you become. Leadership leads to great career opportunities.
8. Thou shall be the change you want to see on thy campus. Every student has complaints about his or her college, regardless of how much he or she loves it. Students who actually DO SOMETHING to improve campus life earn the respect of everyone from fellow students to administrators to future employers. Just think of how great it will sound in a job interview to talk about how you left your college or university better than you found it.
9. Thou shall take pride in thy institution. School pride is often a reflection of personal pride because people with pride align themselves with greatness. School pride goes beyond athletic events; it even makes a difference in personal decisions and excelling in your career through great job performance.
10. Thou shalt not hate on “boring” students. Of course it’s much more exciting to party while the nerds fall asleep on their books in the library. Successful people, however, are known for boring things such as discipline and focus. Here’s an idea. You can have it all by being boring with the books and blowing off steam at the parties before going back to make it happen in the classroom the next day.
Here’s what it all boils down to–setting yourself up for success. While some college freshmen are crafting strategies for fun and excitement, other freshmen are crafting a guide to begin with the end in mind. What will be your commandments to help you get the most out of your college experience?
Live HOPE. Give HOPE.
About the Author
Eddie Francis is the Director of Communications at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas (formerly the Interim Director of Enrollment Management). A 23-year media veteran, he also publishes the “P.R. and Marketing in Higher Ed” blog at http://prmarketinginhighered.blogspot.com.