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.