Wednesday, February 15, 2012

student story

When I meet and speak with students, I sometimes share the stories of other students. I've noticed over the years that students value the example or inspiration of other students. Similarly and as a bit of a digression, when asked to do a presentation to a student group, I have the student leader or faculty adviser suggest a student co-presenter. I meet with that student, and we discuss how we can complement each other in terms of what I will present and what she/her will present from the student point-of-view. During the presentation, the students will listen and sometimes take notes on what I say, but I notice that they really pay attention to what my student co-presenter says.

One of my favorite student stories begins with my giving a pre-orientation learning strategies workshop to a large number of first year student-athletes. They were on campus for pre-season training. After the session, as I was walking across campus back to my office, a tall and ruggedly handsome young man approached me and asked politely if he could ask me a question. I looked up at him and said, "sure." He looked (down) at me and said, "I know why I was accepted to Dartmouth." Given his size and build, I was pretty sure it was because of his football skills. "But," he continued, "now that I am here, I really want to take advantage of this opportunity that I have been given. May I meet with you every once in a while to talk about my courses and how to do well academically?"

I, of course, said "yes." And we did meet quite a few times his first year, maybe once or twice his sophomore year, and periodically on campus when our paths crossed during his last two years at Dartmouth.

He wasn't a star athlete, though he did play football all four years and started most games his senior year. He did quite well academically, however, and he was a BMOC (big man on campus) in terms of his involvement and leadership in several campus and volunteer organizations.

I like to share his story because it illustrates how important having a postive attitude and setting clear individual goals can be.

Monday, February 13, 2012

ten steps to academic success

I am often asked by students, in one-on-one meetings or during workshops and presentations, what I consider to be the top ten strategies for doing well in college. Here is the list that I usually share with students. Future posts will explore each one in more detail, along with the stories of students that fit each one.

1) set academic and personal goals
2) learn actively
3) time/task management
4) listening and notetaking skills
5) reading skills
6) exam preparation and taking skills
7) stress management and exercise
8) writing skills
9) getting the sleep you need and staying healthy
10) getting involved in co-curricular activities

Especially motivated/curious students will ask me if there are additional skills or pieces of advice. Of course there are quite a few others, but I am usually quick to add:

11) course choice, especially during your first year in college
12) getting to know your professors

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Introductory Post

The purpose of this post and this blog is to share what I know, based on thirty years of working with college students, about how students can do well academically in college or university. While I currently work at a highly selective college, I have previously worked at a college which was essentially open admissions. In both colleges, students had the potential to do well if they 1) wanted to do well 2) had or created a set of academic and personal goals and 3) knew and used some active learning/study skills.

The research is clear --  successful students (and people in the world of work) share two important characteristics: clear goals and they manage their time.

I intend to use this blog to share what I know, including what I have learned from students, about doing well in college. While I am tempted to post in a logical and sequential way, I may start by making contributions based on what I am currently saying to students.

I invite your comments and suggestions.