Student Success Strategy #50: Looking back

A question for my readers:  After fifty posts on student success strategies, what value are you getting from reading?   What did you learn?   What would you like to see?

What did I do well?  What am I missing?

My own students give me great insight into their strategies for success.  Some strategies work, some don’t, but the act of trying makes them better students.

I’m finding different methods to write this blog.  Some of them are working, and some aren’t, but I hope I am becoming better at providing what you want to see.

Please send your comments to me either at the end of this post, or at  Please put “Blog” in the subject line.  Thanks!

Diane Neff, Ed.D.


Student Success Strategy #49: What is education?

Here are four quotes on learning, education, and college.  How do these quotes compare to your idea of a college education?  And how does that impact what you do while you are in college?

Think about it.

If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library. ~ Frank Zappa

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.  ~Ray Bradbury

The aim of a college education is to teach you to know a good man when you see one.  ~William James

In college, you learn how to learn. Four years is not too much time to spend at that.   ~Mary Oliver

What do you think?  Are you in college to get an education?  Could you be educated without college?  Are you taking advantage of the opportunities you have?  How do you make a college education worth your effort, time, and money?  What should a college education teach you?

Student Success Strategy #49:  What is  education?  Are you taking advantage of all your opportunities to get educated?

Student Success Strategy #48: Student ID Cards

Your college mug shot student ID photo may not be your best look, but it will get you the benefits you deserve!  Keep it with you at all times, and if it is lost, replace it immediately.

Marco wanted to pick up discount tickets on campus for a weekend movie on the other side of town.  When he arrived at the ticket window in the student union, he couldn’t find his ID card.  While he was at the window trying to convince the work-study student behind the counter to look him up in a database, he overheard that there were free vouchers for cab rides back to campus for those times when someone doesn’t have transportation – or when a designated driver “forgets” to order a soft drink.

He needed his ID card for that too.

Walking back into his residence hall, he saw his friends in the lunch room, so he was going to grab something with them.  His meal ticket was encoded into his ID card, though, so not only did he go hungry, he couldn’t even join them at their table.

He vowed to find the card once he got back into his room.   On the way, though, he ran into some friends and they convinced him to join them for pizza and beer.  Then they were all heading over to a basketball game.  Unfortunately, Marco couldn’t get in free without his ID card, and he had used the last of his money on extra beer.   His “campus cash” was part of the smart chip on his ID card.  He went back to his room alone.

Most colleges expect or require you to have your ID card with you at all times while you are on campus.   Even if they don’t, the card usually has privileges associated with it.   Don’t miss out because you left it behind.

Student Success Strategy #48:  Your student ID card.  Don’t leave home without it.

Student Success Strategy #47: Student Health: Mononucleosis

Josh was a healthy 18 year old student at a large college.  After about two months, he was struggling to stay awake, feeling sluggish all day, sleeping through alarm clocks, coughing to clear a scratchy throat, and feeling aches throughout his body.

Mononucleosis!  The “kissing disease” had struck.

College life means close contact with many other students.  Just like gossip, germs travel quickly through close quarters and close friends.  Kissing isn’t necessary to catch mono – just having the bad luck to have that germ find you is enough.

Some students are able to fight off a mild case, and continue with classes, homework and projects, and even a social life.  Others drop out of school to get well, because the effort to continue is beyond what their bodies can do.

What should you do if you get sick at college?

First, have yourself checked out at the student health center or  your own doctor.  Your symptoms may be from something mild and may resolve themselves quickly.  In any case, notify your professors if you need some extra time, will miss class, or might fall asleep in class.  With a note from the doctor, most professors will accommodate you as much as they can.

Discuss your options with your doctor, your parents, and your advisor.  If you need to drop out for the semester, has the drop deadline already passed?  If it has, look into medical withdrawal procedures.  This allows you to drop your semester – all classes must be dropped under medical withdrawal – and return when you are healthy.

If you drop within the drop deadline, find out what you must do to be eligible to return.  Do you need to apply for readmittance?   Ask your advisor!

Don’t ignore your health, but don’t ignore your education.  If you are unable to continue, be sure you take positive action to drop.  Doing nothing will result in grades that reflect your work throughout the semester, and that could mean an F in every class.

Student Success Strategy #47:  Your health is important.  Don’t let it stop you from your goals, but know your limitations.

Student Success Strategy #46: Low Tech Winners

Sarah was the student who seemed to know everything.  If you asked her a question about her major, she knew the requirements, her future class schedule, and even which professors were teaching the classes.  She knew what research was being conducted in the department, which clubs and honor societies were helpful, and even where to find next year’s apartment.

She was almost never seen on a computer, and used her cell phone only when necessary – in other words, she was not “connected” like most of the other students.

So what made her so knowledgeable?

If you’d follow her throughout her day, you’d notice that between classes, she would walk through the halls of her classroom buildings, or cut through other buildings on her way to another area of campus.

She was reading bulletin boards!  How elementary school!  How low tech!  How uncool!

Most academic departments have at least one large bulletin board outside of the main office, and many have several.  Some professors maintain bulletin boards outside their offices, or tape paper to their doors.

You can find almost anything there:  Apartments for rent to students who share the same major (and possibly the same schedule for carpooling!), social events for students or students and faculty together, meetings of the honor societies that focus on that major, clubs looking for new members and volunteers to help with their goals, upcoming job fairs or workshops, and often, the research that professors are publishing.

Too simple!  Too convenient!  Too low-tech, but it works.  As you have those few minutes during your day, look around and find information in the old fashioned way – on bulletin boards.

Student Success Strategy #48:  Be a low tech winner.  Read bulletin boards and office doors.

Student Success Strategy #45: Time Management Part IV: Location Lists

You have three dozen things to do, classes to attend, errands to run, library research to conduct, reading to complete, laundry to wash, and three phone calls to make.

A to-do list is great, but there are ways to organize it that may be more efficient than a simple list.

Index cards or electronic note cards are great for organizing based on location.  What?  How do you organize your tasks, and more important, why?

If you organize by location, and you have some waiting time, you can go to the card that corresponds to where you are to see what can be done.

Stuck on campus with two hours between classes?  Pull out the card that says “campus” and find that you can make your phone calls, visit the library rather than doing everything online, or complete your reading.  Visit a campus office for information, or simply make an appointment with your advisor.

Are you on the way home and your roommate tells  you to stay away for another hour?  Do you have groceries to buy, phone calls to make, or notes to rewrite?

What if you are at home and your next class has been canceled?  Get that laundry done while you make phone calls or rewrite notes.

If you are not always settled into one place, organizing your to-do list by location that tasks may be completed is one way to help use those moments of free time between your scheduled events.

Student Success Strategy #45:  Location lists can be useful for filling in time you “find” during the day.

Strategy for Success #44: Wait! Wait!

Waiting for a professor to show up?  It happens that occasionally a professor misses a class.  Usually, there is some form of notification, especially with all of the electronic means of communication available.  There may also be a note left on the door or in the classroom.

Those situations are easy.  If you know ahead of time, don’t go.  If there’s a note at the class, you have two options.  Leave as soon as you see it, celebrate your free time (not too enthusiastically, please), or use the time to meet with your fellow students to plan ahead for group projects, get questions answered, or even to study together.

If there is no note, how long do you wait for the professor to arrive before leaving?  One tradition is that a teaching assistant rates 5 minutes, an assistant professor or lecturer 10 minutes, an associate professor 15 minutes, and a full professor 20 minutes.

The rumor is that as a professor’s rank in academia increases, so should the courtesy shown to him or her.   Have you done your research to know your professor’s rank?  Some colleges don’t even use rank, only the term “professor.”

Does your college have a tradition for this?  Is it written, unwritten but understood, or just a rumor?  Why not ask the professor before any possible misunderstanding?  Ask with extreme restraint and respect, to avoid creating an impression of hoping for canceled classes.

Try THIS:  “Professor, what should we do if you are delayed getting to class and have no way of notifying us that you are on your way?”

NOT this:  “Professor, how long do we have to wait for you if you are late?”

Student Success Strategy #44:  Wait!  But plan ahead for this possibility so your time isn’t wasted.