I. Increase the Level of Accountability
It’s not the extra homework or the big vocabulary that’s killing you–it’s the freedom. It’s the fact that your college instructor doesn’t take attendance. It’s the fact that even though your paper is due in four weeks, the instructor isn’t going to ask to see the paper until the thing is actually due. It’s the fact that your parents have nothing to do with this. There are no teachers looking over your shoulders constantly, and verbally lashing you for talking, sleeping, eating, or texting in class. YOU’RE FREE, which is why you struggle. There is no class bell, no homeroom, no “lunch” time, no free period–it’s up to you to make those things. And college is not scheduled so that you can easily reproduce your old high school schedule every semester either.
You must learn to accomplish tasks (even simple ones) (a) regardless of who is watching and (b) accomplish them as if you were being graded–because you won’t be. Let me explain…
The first one is linked to integrity, so if you have none then this is gonna be quite difficult for you. Our educational system teaches us to accomplish tasks in order to please someone–if not, then we are labeled selfish, outsiders, or rebels. No one is watching on a camera from the principals office, and no one is going to enforce a curfew upon you. You are your own boss, and if you are not careful, your lack of ability to balance time and choices will get you fired. You must become self-motivated. You must find motivational fuel that keeps you going–it may seem stupid to your friends, but they will have to walk down this same road as well. Those who bring fuel to college rarely run out of gas before making it to the next moment in life where they can have their passion re-fueled (but that’s another conversation for another time!)
The next one is linked to the fact that our culture gives us a grade on everything so we expect a grade for everything. Students ask me for extra points or credit for:
Putting their name on the test
Spelling something correctly
Showing up to class on time
Bringing their books to class
Not chewing gum
Raising their hand
Not falling asleep
I don’t blame them, we’ve been trained that way. We think that we deserve extra points for that material because teachers GIVE extra points for NORMAL behavior. So why not ask? This year I tried something different with pop quizes. Instead of making them count for a grade, I made them all extra credit. In other words, if you showed up for class, took the quiz, and failed it, you would still get points towards your final average. The grade point average on my pop quizes DROPPED, and more students came late to class than any other semesters. WHY?!? Because I de-valued them. The quizes didn’t hurt, so there was no accountability. I overestimated my students by thinking that they all had lives disciplined enough to balance such a task and I set them up for failure. I was heart broken. I should have known better. It wasn’t their faults, it was mine.
Place VALUE on each task and each assignment. You will care for nothing that has no value to you. Place value on the time that you spend studying, reviewing and researching. Request that others place value on your time and academic activities as well. If you begin to value what you do, then you will do what you do with aunique standard of excellence without delay. And that might keep you from failing…now it’s time for part 3…