Back to School Advice

On 09/19/2011, in Formal Education, by Jordan Wilson

School is back in session and students are already up to their eyes in assignments.

Or up to their eyes in kegs of beer, as the case may be.

I read a good article recently concerning advice to college students. 

An Open Letter to a College Freshman, by Dr. Timothy Dalrymple, offers useful thoughts for anyone attending a post-secondary institute.

Recognizing that many readers may be atheist, agnostic, or of different religious faiths, Dr. Dalrymple’s point 7 may not be for everyone. But I think the other 6 suggestions should be considered by all students.

I would also add two thoughts from my side.

Learn the How and Why, not Just the Answer

Do not simply learn the answers to questions.

This is implied in the article but not expressly stated.

I know when I teach or mentor students I always tell them to “hit the answer key” on exams. They need to be able to provide the cookie cutter responses to get the grades.

But in business, you need to know how things work and why they function as they do.

It is the thought process that gets you to the right answer that is important. Because in business, there are many variables in any situation and they can all change over time. Knowing the hows and whys will enable you to adapt to shifting conditions.

Be the Solution Person

Become a solutions person.

While in school, learn how to get things done. In correct manner, in professional appearance, on time, and on budget.

Learn how to corral cats lead class working groups, so that they become organized forces rather than wastes of time.

Challenge your professors and offer well-thought responses and alternatives. Do not simply sit back and wait for the answer from your teacher or another student. Be proactive. Think of reasonable solutions and make your voice heard.

These things will help you in your future careers. Because in the work world, to get ahead:

You cannot just pose questions to your boss. You must be able to offer viable solutions to problems.

You should not create additional work for your boss. You must be able to deliver a quality product so that your manager has more time to focus on other matters, not your difficulties.

You will often need to manage teams and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Learning how to deal with divergent personalities while in school will help you in the real world.

Become known as the person that can get things done, whether it be on solo tasks or group projects. If you can come to be seen as a solutions person, you will be in great demand and have a positive future.

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