Students will be able to achieve the following after reading this chapter:
- Understand the habits, behaviors, mindsets, perspectives and overall college success skills students need to practice to achieve academic goals.
- Use skills to communicate effectively, proactively, diplomatically, professionally, and in a timely manner with instructors and peers.
- Understand the top nine intellectual standards for quality thinking, speaking, and writing and apply them to college studies.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the differences between “growth” and “fixed” mindsets and of how to apply the growth mindset for greater college success.
A Student’s Story
Josh started college after being injured while working in construction. He hoped to earn a teaching degree and to work in a career that fit his family life. He thought that, given his past job—rising at an early hour, arriving on time, and working hard throughout an 8- to 10-hour day—he would find it easy to take on a full-time schedule of classes at the local community college. However, as the semester began, he struggled to maintain his weekly one-hour physical therapy appointments on top of 15 hours per week in the classroom, 5 hours per week of commuting to and from college, 25–36 hours per week of reading and studying for quizzes and class discussions, and still taking care of family and personal needs. He lost hours of sleep and found it difficult to stay awake in classes.
He considered dropping a course and decided to see his academic counselor. She took great care to speak with Josh about college success skills, starting with creating and adhering to a manageable schedule that would ensure that he had time for effective studying, for his personal needs, and especially for his family—the people for whom he had committed himself to earning a degree and becoming a teacher.
It’s important for students like Josh to know that they are not alone in dealing with these kinds of challenges and frustrations. Not only is he in similar company with other adult students (i.e., who are either returning to college or have decided to change paths and start their college career with the professional world in mind), but also with many college freshmen just out of high school (i.e., who are just beginning the academic transition from high school). Regardless of a student’s situation, each needs to develop specific behaviors, habits, and mindsets to succeed in college-level courses and to successfully earn the degree desired.
Students must learn the art of balance. Balancing life with one’s college career is challenging, but so is balancing life as an adult. If students value working in their desired careers, the college effort is worth the career rewards, along with the many subsequent benefits accrued over a lifetime. As former First Lady Michelle Obama said when she reminded students of the true and eternal value of taking academic strides:
There is nothing that any of you can’t do. This is what you have to do. You have to stay in school. You have to. You have to go to college. You have to get your degree [b]ecause…the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education. And it is worth the investment. So stay focused. (Obama, pars. 33-34)