Wednesday, September 2, 2015

8 Traits of Amazing College Students By Alex Herzog Ed.D.

If you are going to follow the pack.. follow this pack!

Well, its that time of year when folks of all walks of life start standing college.  Whether you retaking classes for enrichment, increasing your job skills, seeking a degree or all of the above, there is a formula to being successful in college.  If you follow these 8 traits of amazing students you too will walk away with not only a solid college degree but also important job skills that will be the foundation for your career.

1.  Amazing students are self-driven to achieve their goals and education.
Amazing students are empowered through self-motivation to drive their education.  They show strong desire and motivation to complete their education and not just complete it, but allow it to transform them into something better.  They don’t quit especially when facing overwhelming odds.  In advance of taking classes, know what you want from your college experience.  Explore careers that interest you and set some goals you have in life.  The results of this exploring and goal setting will help you get back on track if you veer off the path.  Think about what your plan B might look like when plan A is not possible.  Too many students quit when they hit an obstacle when all they really needed to do was to have a plan B and implement accordingly. 

2.  Amazing Students go to class and read the syllabus.
Although you might think.. Duh! You would be surprised how many students find themselves in trouble early on in their academic career. Amazing students go to class and if for some reason they can’t go to class they are communicating with the professor and also asking what they might have missed.  You are paying for your education; get the most out of it by going to class. Also, amazing students will read the course syllabus and mark important due dates and test dates in a calendar.  They read the instructors policies and expectations.  This document should be viewed as a contract between you and the Instructor.   Keep it safe and follow it closely.       

3.  Amazing students do the work.
Going to class is just not enough.  Amazing students will do the work expected of them.  They take good class notes and then rewrite those notes by the end of the day.  Studies show that students retain learned material at higher rates if they rewrite their notes before the end of the day they took them.  You could also rewrite them by typing them.  Although studies show that typing notes up by using a laptop or iPad shows lower retention than if you had handwritten the notes. 

Also, as you read the material, write down questions related to the topics you are reading.  Bring them to class and be sure to ask the instructor.  It speaks volumes to instructors that you are engage in the class and making an effort to learn the material.  Showing that kind of effort can easily turn a “B” into a “B+”! 

To get a head start during the summer and winter breaks, find out what the instructor is planning for the course in terms of reading material and start reading.  Having a base of knowledge before going to class will help you better understand the lectures and have an overall better learning experience.

Amazing students also connect with classmates and join or form study groups.  If you are assigned a group project, be active and do your share of the work.  Working together in groups is an excellent experience and can help reinforce learning that will benefit you beyond a letter grade.    

In my career in higher education, I have heard every excuse one can come up with to avoid doing the work.   Nothing worth getting is ever done so easily.  Make an effort and you will gain much from the experience.   

4.  Amazing students get involved.
Service learning is a higher education buzzword that means applying what you learned in the classroom to the regional community.  Professors take their classes out in to the community and have students apply what they have learned to find answers or solve a problem.  For instance, the chemistry professor that has his class test for lead paint on the homes of the local community.  If your class isn’t doing something like this, ask the instructor if an activity like this could be arranged. 

Getting involved in college can take many forms.  Amazing students will join clubs and organizations that surround activities that they enjoy.  Involved students can apply skills learned in the classroom and develop new ones like running a meeting or conflict resolution.  These soft skills are often essential to navigating the real world and sought after by employers.  Students in Student Government or elected type student leadership positions will often receive scholarships and or stipends for their time and effort too.

5.  Amazing students seek to understand the differences among us.
If you want to achieve success after college, you need to understand that we all come from different backgrounds and upbringing.  Amazing students make an effort to be culturally competent.  They make an effort to connect and make friends with students coming from various backgrounds and cultures.  Technology makes the global workplace a reality for even small businesses.  Learn how to socialize and communicate with different cultures so that you can be a valuable asset to your organization. 

6.  Amazing students know where the money goes.
Amazing students are aware of the costs of college.  They value the experience and the investment they are making in themselves.  However, they are smart to avoid excessive student loans and seek out scholarships to help pay for their education.  Amazing students will work 10-15 hours a week while taking classes and learn to manage their money.  They will refrain from getting a credit card and minimize student loans to avoid going into debt.       

7.  Amazing students work to stay healthy.
Staying healthy is at the core of an amazing student’s daily activities.  Stay active by getting involved in college intramural sports or clubs that conduct regular outings like a hiking club.  Be careful of what and how much you eat at the cafeteria.  If you don’t know what the best food options are for your, ask the dining hall staff for a food guide and plan your meals ahead of time.  If you just don’t know, use the Internet to learn what the best food options are out there for you.  Pizza and burgers are ok in moderation but should not be eaten everyday!    

8.  Finally, amazing students makes the most of their time.    
Amazing students plan their time.  They make a schedule and keep to it.  They plan for the work, studying and more importantly the plan their fun time.  General study rule is to plan at least two hours of study time for every hour you spend in class.  With a 15 Credit hour load, you should be studying about 30 additional hours a week.    

No matter where you got to college and what you plan to study, follow these traits of amazing students and you will find that success is within your reach.  I always tell my kids, its not enough just to do the job, you should strive to do the job well.  Follow the path of amazing students and you too will be amazing. 

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