Great advice for college students

I had a lot of great conversations with brand new college students last week.  Among other pieces of advice I shared, one of them was basically… faculty one-on-one time is the most under-utilized resource at the university.  So many students just don’t appreciate this fact at all, or are totally intimidated, or are just after their degree and nothing more.

Loved this Frank Bruni column from this weekend on how to get the most out of college:

But others do have the freedom to tailor their time. They just neglect to take advantage of it. My friend Eric Johnson, who provides guidance to underprivileged students at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, put it to me this way: “The more you regard college as a credentialing exercise, the less likely you are to get the benefits.”

Johnson is as thoughtful and insightful about higher education as just about anyone I’ve come across. The wisest students, he said, “move into a peer relationship with the institution rather than a consumer relationship with it.” They seize leadership roles. They serve as research assistants.

And they build social capital, realizing that above all else, they’re in college “to widen the circle of human beings who know you and care about you,” [emphases mine] he said. That’s perfectly put…

But perhaps the most important relationships to invest in are those with members of the school’s faculty. Most students don’t fully get that. They’re not very good at identifying the professors worth knowing — the ones who aren’t such academic rock stars that they’re inaccessible, the ones with a track record of serious mentoring — and then getting to know them well…

Walker is an example of what a mammoth study by Gallup, Purdue University and the Strada Education Network has found. Previously known as the Gallup-Purdue Index and now called the Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey, it has questioned about 100,000 American college graduates of all ages about their college experiences, looking for connections between how they spent their time in college and how fulfilled they say they are now.

The study has not found that attending a private college or a highly selective one foretells greater satisfaction. Instead, the game changers include establishing a deep connection with a mentor, taking on a sustained academic project and playing a significant part in a campus organization. What all of these reflect are engagement and commitment, which I’ve come to think of as overlapping muscles that college can and must be used to build. They’re part of an assertive rather than a passive disposition, and they’re key to professional success.

Great advice.  If you are a college student, follow it.  If you are an NC State student, you know where to find me.  And you know where to find organizations to get yourself involved.

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