Those most successful in their college career are set apart from their peers by the attitude they possess going in and the thought they put into their college preparations. Many students transition into college without having a clear goal for their future, and so their mindset and actions are unfocused. This leads often to wasted years of ‘exploratory’ classes and general frustration, particularly as students become distracted by the increased freedoms and social schedule college can offer. This is easily preventable by adopting a philosophy of engaged thinking before you arrive at college.
What is Engaged Thinking?
Engaged thinking encourages you to actively think about each moment of your life, to be engaged in it, and to keep an eye towards the future with actionable, specific goals. These goals are the stepping stones to the future of your own creation. That is the beautiful result of this sort of mindful living – the world you live in becomes one of your own design because you choose to take an active role in its creation.
How to Become Engaged
1) Determine what your priorities really are. When preparing for college and beyond, having a clear picture of what you are working to achieve makes all the difference in the world in how well you clear the obstacles between your present position and where you wish to go. It is helpful before you even begin doing career research to understand what fulfills you. Money, for some, is a key priority but for others is less important than a career where they can make a difference in the world. Find your priorities, and then seek out educational paths that will do more than just provide a job, but excite you as you work towards a future career.
2) Once you have a clear picture of what your needs are, you can begin to make concrete plans. Goal-setting is a vital part of engagement. Your goals should be divided into three basic categories, short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Each goal should be clearly defined, it should be obvious when you have achieved it, and be accompanied by clear steps towards attaining it. An example of a poor goal would be ‘find three good colleges’. A better example would be ‘find three colleges with good academic standing and high rankings for their medical programs in the northwest’. The latter example narrows down your work, gives you better results, and you will know that you have done the job well once it is completed. Write your goals down. Look at them. Reassess them occasionally.
3) Do not become complacent. It helps to have a daily reminder of what you are working towards. One excellent way to do this is to purchase and maintain a calendar. You want one that is notebook sized, and includes a monthly overview and large sections for daily tasks. You can reaffirm your goals by writing them out clearly each month, and creating daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that work towards them. Once you get into the habit of using this calendar daily, it will help you better organize your time in general and is a great boon to successful college work.
Heather E., today’s guest author, uses the philosophy above every day to help her on her journey to complete a challenging doctorate program. She juggles her education with freelance writing for college research site DegreeJungle, teenager wrangling, and dancing to music played far too loud.