Tuesday, September 14, 2010

5 Attitudes of Successful College Students

For some people, college is a breeze.  From initial applications through graduation with honors, it's an effortless path.  Or maybe not.
Sometimes from the outside it's easy to see the accomplishments, but not the stress, efforts, and anxiety along the way.  I remember a good friend in college who would typically study until midnight--on a Saturday night--and then join us for a beer.

For someone who didn't know him well, his acceptance to med school might have seemed like another lucky break.  Those of us who know him though, realized that he made his own luck.

How do some people make their own luck.  Well, it might be based in part on their approach to life.  Here are some attitudes that might help make you "lucky."

1. Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.

I can't say who said it first.  For me it was Dan Mazziota, one of my high school coaches.  The older I get, the more true it seems.  Tough times in college?  Show up for class on time.  Take good notes. Ask questions.  Seek out extra help.  Read that $90 textbook.  Turn off your cell phone--in class and while you study.  Try this for a semester and see if college isn't a little bit easier.

2. A failure is nothing more than a detour on the way to success.

Keep.  On.  Coming.  It's impressive in the movies (think "The Goonies," "Rudy," or "Lord of the Rings."  Go Sean Astin!)  But it's even better in real life.  Everyone's had failures.  What makes a great story is the dramatic comeback.  And that only happens if you make it happen.

First step?  Tell the professor how important the class is to you.  Key step?  SHOW the professor how important the class is to you.  Be there early.  Stay after.  Have a few questions ready about the last lecture.  Engage at a deeper level.

3. Everyone is a potential key contact.

Do see that football player who doesn't quite seem to get it in accounting?  Why not help out?  It could be as simple as inviting him to a review session.  For now, maybe he'll get you into a great party.  But the real payoff may come as graduation nears.

When he grabs a great job based on his kick-ass interview, he may just put in a good word about your fantastic accounting skill.  Then you're both on a plane to Houston.

Long shot?  Sure.  The bottom line is though, that we never know in advance which connection will pay off.

4. How can I be of service to others?

This is closely related to #3, but sometimes different.  I love this quote from Zig Ziglar: "You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want."  Obviously this is the basis for any successful buiness.  Sometimes I think it's even more--like some kind of cosmic karmic(?) law.

5.  I can make it happen.

This, to me, is the one that will make or break you.  Psychologists talk about our "locus of control."

"Locus of control in social psychology refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Understanding of the concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an important aspect of personality studies.

Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions. Those with a low internal locus of control believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events.

Those with a high internal locus of control have better control of their behavior, tend to exhibit more political behaviors, and are more likely to attempt to influence other people than those with a low external locus of control."
Bottom line?  If you think you're in control, you'll try to find a way to "make it happen."  If you fell you're not in control, it's too easy to make excuses and simply go with the flow.

Have a great year.  You CAN make it happen!

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