Put Me In, Coach. College Is Not a Spectator Sport
By Ray Cross
I have never yet met an athlete who preferred to sit on the bench rather than getting into the game.
But it seems to me that too many students spend their time “sitting on the bench” instead of getting the most out of college.
I am going to assume that’s not because they’re slackers, but because nobody has ever told them how to go to college. So, just for a few minutes, allow me to be your college coach. You only have to practice five simple rules and I guarantee you will have a better experience in college, and probably a more successful life.
1. Participate in class. Resist the urge to sit in the back and Facebook or doze. Take at least one participation-intensive course every semester. Sit up front in lectures and don’t be shy about asking the professor a question.
2. Talk to your professors. Believe it or not, they want you to visit them during office hours. They would love to have a conversation with you about your interests and goals. You might even want them to write you a recommendation letter someday.
3. Get involved in something that engages you 100%. A class, club, cause or sport. You will remember the new friends you met and new experiences that expanded your horizons.
4. Balance your social activities and academics. Don’t be a party animal. That’s obvious. But don’t be a grind, either. Both parts of college life are important.
5. Learn self-discipline. The one skill that will make you successful in whatever you do in life is the ability to work steadily toward a future goal. Take personal responsibility for your education. Don’t blame the “bad teacher” or the “boring course” for your own lack of effort. It’s your education; make the most of it. Don’t be a spectator; be a player!
If you are already taking charge of your own education, congratulations. If you’re still sitting on the bench, it’s time to get into the game.
Have a great semester.
Ray Cross is chancellor the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension.
You can find a high resolution photo of Ray Cross here.