How to be a Great Student: Part Four

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.”
Alexander Woollcott


How to be a Great Student: Part Four

Let ’em know that you are coming.


This is part of a series, click the tag: Be a Good Student for more.


When I was just a little boy, I asked my Mother what could I be. I was probably wondering about being an astronaut. She said, “You can be whatever you want to be”. That is a very nice thing to hear. However, as I look back, I kind of wish she’d said, “Be a dentist, get married early, have lots of babies” so that I’d have something to measure myself against if I went another direction.

The best students have a goal. They know where they want to be in five, ten, twenty years. Working towards that goal gives life purpose. Instead of attending classes, they are “taking” classes and getting what they need from the class and teacher. This is very different than passively letting the teacher steer the class through the day.

School, and life, offers a fantastic sampler plate. Tasting math and history and English and all of the other classes, one can discover the topics that they like. This should encourage the shaping of a goal and to do more and more in those favorite areas.

The key, I think, is to let ’em know that you are coming. If you are in the eighth grade, then contact the counselor at your high school as find out what you can do now to make that future life more fertile. And, you now have someone who is looking for you to arrive and knows where you want to go.

Students in a four year college could or should be looking for a job starting that first year. Contact a company that you dream of working for and ask what they want in their hires. Working on that internship while in school is much better than doing it after, for example. Let them groom your pathway so that when you graduate, they are expecting you.

I hope that you are not writing your resume on the last semester of college; stepping out into the world of expectations and dreams. It is a rough world out there, plan ahead.

Knowing the pathway to choose it tough. We can be insecure and unsure of the future. Still, it has to be done. Going through school with no goal means that you can be pushed about by any stray wind.

Here’s the deal. I hope that you don’t succeed.

I have seen many students who are so goal oriented that they see classes as hurdles and I really want them to stop and learn (and change!) from my classes. Those that reach their goals are boring. They have a very narrow life experience.

If I am working on a job, I much prefer to work with someone who once was a musician but is now a lawyer. Or a military vet who is now an artist. They bring all of that investment to a new experience that makes them more interesting and much more kaleidoscopic in their understanding of the world.

Having a goal in life is crucial. Taking opportunities that are a tangent must be considered. Imagine getting a degree in Theater and then another in Business and then yet another in Education; now that is a person I’d go for coffee with after work.

The work that you do is never wasted. Working with a teacher who was once a waitress is interesting. They have a depth of experience and a different understanding of life. Go for the goal but invest in the journey.

4 thoughts on “How to be a Great Student: Part Four

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