Revisiting Positive Thinking

Students are really stressed out this time of year. Frankly, so are faculty. November means tons of the usual deadlines, meetings, and a partial “reading break.” What a misnomer that is! Given my profession as a college professor, I am surrounded my young people, by students. And, this year if I could wish them anything it would be more positive thinking. I know that some will scoff and say, “They are so self-indulgent and have a sense of self-entitlement.” Well, that really is a small percentage in my opinion. There is a larger contingent who are really trying to figure things out—who they are in the world and what they want to do.

My wish to students is for more positive thinking. Remember that there are people who believe in you and your success. This does not mean that I am going to give you A’s. No, I do not give grades, students earn them. If you get a grade you do not like, this does not mean that I do not like you or that somehow the rubric was unfair. Instead, take a step back, inhale and exhale and own your performance. Then, think about how much research, time, and writing you put into the assignment. Go into your classes and assignments with a positive attitude. The attitude and interest in your classes can carry you a long way.

Likewise, you really should sleep on the comments and mark and avoid firing off an email. If you have concerns or questions about the assignment, you really should confer with your instructor during office hours or make an appointment. I’ve had many apologies from students face to face–once I’ve commented on an inappropriate email that was sent my way. I do not engage these emails. My usual response is something like this: This email is problematic and this conversation must take place face to face and not via email. My advice to everyone: never send an email when you’re angry, as you’ll usually regret it.

Back to positive thinking and visualizing your success. As I have previously said much of what I do is validate students. Yes, you are on the right track. Yes, that paper topic sounds promising. However, you ultimately have to do the work. Your first step is being honest and optimistic. The second step is planning. Planning your thinking, studying, and writing time. Stop reading this post and get back to work!

Organization Matters: Fri Fun Facts

Recently I had a student in my office who had his next two years planned out–typed and ready for my review. I get this. I did this. OK, it was hand written, but I also planned like this. Today’s Friday Fun Facts is dedicated to planning your post-secondary education. And, here I assume that this plan is after the first year, so that the student has at least taken several course as they figure out what they like or don’t.

1. After you’ve met your undergraduate requirements for the degree review the requirements for the degree programs that you’re the most interested in for your major and or minor.

2. Related to the above point, I actually suggest to students that they at the very least have a major and a minor. Preferably, I’d suggest a double major. For some the preference might work best as a major, minor and co-op. The students who are focused on graduate school should look if the department has an Honors Program.

3. You should meet with the Undergraduate Advisor(s). This will vary at campuses. In some the office might be in the department (your major area) or there might be an Advising Center. Either way–these professional staff or faculty are there to help you. They can best help you when you are well informed and when you have questions for them.

4. Talk to other students to find out what they suggest. They will also be useful to find out which departments and professors you should look into for your degree program.

5. Remember that this is your education and you need to own it. You must be your best advocate in and out of the classroom. This means that you need to keep an eye out for deadlines and make meetings with the appropriate people or offices for information.

6. And, if you’re like the student from earlier this month and me, you can map out your courses for your degree program. It’s useful to actually see what you need and what you can take. Do it! It’s not in stone, but it makes you organize what you need to do.

May I suggest that you get a copy of the rules and add post its and highlight all the key information. Nowadays so much of this information is online and somehow you need to get familiar with the information regarding your degree program. Bookmark the appropriate webpages.