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What Do You Want to Get Out of This School Year?

In an article for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, several humanities professors studied the habits and perceptions of a sample of college students (just a puddle hop away, in New England).  The ultimate question they hoped to answer: “What Would Make This a Successful Year for You?” The you here is you, the students.

What the professors found was that students change their minds about success over time. They go from putting all of their eggs into the “academic” basket, to focusing mostly on gaining social skills, to working solely on “life management” skills, such as general satisfaction and well-being. The common thread among the students studied, as the article states, was that: “The focus of their success narratives ebbs and flows over time. Making friends is important initially, as students seek to establish a social network in a new environment; thinking about career-related activities and cementing friendships are more pressing concerns, as students imagine life after college.”

The issue that remained constant was the debate over how important grades were to the student at any moment in his/her college career. 88% of students in their fourth year of college described “academic achievement” as a main point of concern in their lives, which sends a positive message about the dedication of today’s students to their own growth. However, the professors that wrote the article discussed whether students should also be focusing on other aspects of growth: “We are not likely—nor do we wish—to change students’ desire to get good grades, but can we find ways to encourage them to supplement this with other metrics of success?”

So keep this in mind as you proceed in the coming weeks, months, and years of your college career. What are you academic goals? How about social, and otherwise? What skills will you choose to gain and how will you gain them? How will you achieve and what will it mean for you? Remember that classes are your main job as a student, but, as these professors showed us, there are certainly other ways of measuring success.


Dean Rifkin