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What Every College Student Needs to Know
While the goal of college is to grow into a mature functional adult it does not always happen easily. Universities and colleges are good at educating students but they are not always good at helping students to help make the jump to adulthood emotionally.
I’ve been teaching at the university level for a few years and it seems like more and more students are having a harder time of transitioning to mature functional adults. I think there are two main contributing factors for this. First, I think part of the problem stems from overzealous parents who want to protect their children and do their best to make sure they have it better than they did. While this is certainly commendable, I’m not thoroughly convinced this is effective in the long run. As parents, it’s our job to prepare our students to be autonomous adults. Part of being a mature adult is learning how to deal with conflict and how to make good decisions. As a parent I want to help my children and do things for them, but I must be careful not do everything for them. In my haste to make things easier for them now, I’m often causing trouble for them later.
The second contributing factor is the influence of our modern society. We live in a free democratic society. Because we live in a democratic society we want everything to be fair. We want every child to have a trophy and to be told how special he or she is. While it is important and admirable to support their self-esteem we do them a disservice by demanding that life be fair. If you’ve been an adult long enough you’ll quickly realize there are not many things in life that are fair. This doesn’t mean we go out of our way to discourage them concerning this, but we equip them with the necessary social and emotional skills to overcome life problems and issues. It often means helping them learn to adapt and overcome obstacles.
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5 Secrets to Success
In my experience of teaching I have seen many students who have developed the necessary skills to do well, while others have not done so well. I’ve noticed five key factors that successful students have in common with one another. While these are not the only factors involved in the maturing process these are five that I’ve seen consistently developed in their lives.
1. Learn to Take Personal Responsibility: Students who grow into successful adults learn to take responsibility for their own lives and their own issues. When they make a mistake or fail they immediately take responsibility for it. They learn to quit blaming their parents and their backgrounds for their personal issues. Rather than blaming others they look for ways to change and to overcome situations.
2. Understand that Work is Work: Successful students learn that work is not always easy. They understand you have to work hard and your future is dependent upon your ability to work and produce. Successful students avoid feeling entitled to positions, perks or privileges. They avoid the victim mentality and refuse to wallow in self-pity. They are also not afraid to work harder than those around them. I remind my students that college is hard and if it was easy, then everyone would do it.
3. Learn to Take Correction: Years ago people tended to take correction a little easier. They valued their elders and authority figures and when they were corrected they understood the ramifications for their disobedience. In our society, this has flipped. We no longer hold in high esteem the authority figures around us. It's no wonder either because many of these have let us down. Another contributing factor to this is the increasing divorce rates in America. Over 50% of the children in America grow up with out a father in the home. This number is higher in urban areas and is upwards around 65-70%. Because there is no father figure in the home there is often the absence of authority in the home. Successful students learn that correction doesn’t have to be a negative thing. When received with a positive perspective it can be used as a catalyst for growth and change. I would rather someone point out my mistakes than me continuing to waste time and resources by making the same mistakes.
4. Become Teachable: This is similar to the previous trait, but it’s more expansive. By being teachable you open yourself up to new ideas, thoughts and opportunities. When you’re teachable you are able to learn from the life experiences and mistakes from others. Also, I remind students that conflict and problems are just an opportunity in disguise. When you’re teachable you are able to recognize these opportunities and learn from them. Don't be afraid to be friends with people who are more successful than you. Two of my best friends that I meet with on a regular basis are a doctor and a vice president to a bank. We learn from one another and challenge one another in different areas of our lives.
5. Find a Mentor: Mentors will take your life further and faster. They help you to stand on their shoulders and reach further than they could. A good mentor will help you to see your blind spots and tell you the truth when you need it. I’ve had the unique opportunity to have some good mentors in my life. In every place that I’ve lived in my life I’ve had the opportunity to be developed by good mentors. This has resulted in my ability to work in some places that I wouldn’t have been able to if it had not been for good mentors. In many circumstances I was one of the youngest individuals on the team and had significant less life experience, but because of my mentors I was able to do things normal people my age could not do or had the opportunity to do.
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College & Career
A close friend of mine has been able to achieve a lot of personal success at an early age of his life. He grew up in a single parent home and when he was a teenager he lost his mother to a terminal illness. Essentially, his brothers and sisters were left to raise themselves. He candidly admits most of his siblings did not do well or make any real efforts to change. However, he wanted to be different than them.
Out of necessity, he started cleaning offices and commercial buildings at night after school. During this time he met a man who was an accountant and he took him under his tutelage. The man taught him good business and relational skills. At this age of 17 this young man started a commercial cleaning company working nights in high school and he sold it a couple of years later for over $250,000. After this business he started another company and sold it by his 30th birthday for over one million dollars.
This young man learned to handle money and to set goals in his life and by the time he was 30 years old he was able to take care of himself and his entire family. He credits much of his success to hard work, being teachable and having good mentors in his life. He was able to go further faster than those around him because he took the time to identify those with life skills he wanted to develop in his own life.
The good news is that all of these traits are not inherited, but all of them can be developed. These can easily be applied to one’s life and by simply following them they will put you years ahead of your peers. I always reminded people that you don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, but you can be the hardest worker in the room. It’s the little things in life that will help you to be different and to help you to be successful. Being successful is not so much about luck, but more about being diligent long enough to achieve the right results. One of my favorites quotes comes from Robert H. Lauer, “Nothing worthwhile ever happens quickly and easily. You achieve only as you are determined to achieve."
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About the Author: Eric Speir is a writer, blogger and educator. He likes to use biblical principles, coaching, practical wisdom and encouragement to help others to thrive in every area of their life. You can read more of his posts at www.ericspeir.com and follow him on Twitter @ericspeir.