This semester we are gathering helpful tips from faculty, staff,and students on how to survive and succeed in college.
- Buy your books even if the tests only include what’s on the PowerPoint slides. Reading the chapters before the lecture helps you know what the lecture is going to be about, giving you a heads up on what is difficult. It also means the lecture is reinforcing the material. And the more reinforcement, the more you’ll learn.
- Showing up is important, but not enough. It’s important to go to class, but go to participate. Playing with your phone, chatting with friends, etc. just won’t cut it in the college classroom.
- It can take a while to make friends. Community college students often have jobs and families. So everyone may not be able to hang around after class. Don’t despair if you don’t make friends immediately. It may take a little while, but if you’re friendly and open, it will happen.
- Don’t assume you’re the only who doesn’t understand a concept. Take it from someone who has been in school most of her life, you are not the only one!!!
- Visit your instructors during their office hours to get help. That’s why they’re there. They want you to succeed. And it’s a lot easier to fix a problem at the beginning. It’s much harder when you’re weeks behind.
Last week, I was taking out my garbage when I met my neighbor walking his dog whose head was encased in one of those cones that dogs are forced to wear after medical procedures. Sophie, a white fluffy dog, had been bitten by a chigger and couldn’t stop scratching, so she was being forced to wear the cone of shame.
Still, this did not keep her from jumping on me, letting me pet her, and basically just having a good time. As I went back inside, I remembered an article I read years ago that stated that if people acted more like dogs, our relationships would be a lot better. Dogs don’t play hard to get. They don’t hide their feelings. They are grateful for attention and show it.
And they absolutely don’t care if they have a cone around their head. They are still going to love you. I watch a lot of Animal Planet and I have seen dogs lose eyes, legs, and tails, and they still greet everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm. They don’t worry if their tummy is poochy or their three-legged run looks stupid. They keep on enjoying life.
If we’re looking for a relationship or self-esteem guru, we could do a lot worse than look to the dog.
Because I’ve spent my entire life in academic settings, I mark my life in terms of semesters. For me, there are several beginnings each year, but there is something special about the start of fall semester: There are new students and faculty, and it’s nice to run into folks I’ve haven’t seen since May.
When you were a kid, you probably marked the beginning of school with new notebooks, pencils, a backpack, maybe even some new clothes. I think we should do the same as adults. Let’s remind ourselves that we really are beginning something new and not just going about another day at work or school.
I start each semester with one or all of the following:
- a pretty notebook. I’m especially partial to one with flowers on the cover.
- a new set of gel pens. (Purple, purple, and more purple)
- a new purse. (Okay, that might be more often than the beginning of the school year.)
But most of all, I try to bring a new attitude. Because although it may be the millionth time I’ve told someone where the “A” Building is located, it is the first time this student has asked. I try to look at the day through the eyes of that new student: how strange and a little scary everything must appear. When I can do that, I find myself being more patient and intent on being one of the positive aspects of the student’s first day at college.
Here’s to a happy and productive academic year to us all!
A little exercise can improve your outlook!
Before the semester starts, declutter your space so that you can concentrate on the important things.
Every day, take a moment to appreciate the beauty around you!
Another college is having its faculty convocation today. And as people do these days, one of my friends who works there is tweeting what’s happening. Apparently, the college president just reminded the faculty that they have a noble purpose.
Although some people are making snarky remarks, I think it’s a good reminder. In the days before classes start, many things happen. Syllabi have to be written, put into course shells, and made accessible. Students who did not preregister have to be advised into a shrinking number of available classes. There are polices and procedures that have to be introduced or reviewed. It can be overwhelming and tiring. And that’s not even counting trying to get ready for the first class.
But we at community colleges have always had a noble purpose. For decades we have been the place that welcomes:
- First-generation college students whose families know little about the inner workings of higher education.
- Second-language students who are not only battling language differences, but cultural differences as well.
- Students who have the ability but not the financial means to start out at a four-year college.
- Adults who are coming to college unsure of their skills.
And that noble purpose goes beyond the classroom. More than one frustrated student has been encouraged to persevere because of a kind word from a division secretary, a clerk in admissions, financial aid, testing, or a security guard. A tutor who says, “You can get this.” may just be the encouragement a student needs. And those of us in the library are often astounded at how grateful students are at what we consider fairly minor things, such as helping them print or showing them the location of their class.
When you know your noble purpose, it suffuses all that you do. Even the very smallest things.