By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- List your most important personal values and relate them to a college education.
- Develop a positive attitude about yourself as a college student.
- Accept responsibility for your college experience and your life.
To succeed in college, it is important to consider why you’re here, what matters to you, and what you hope to get out of your college experience.
What’s Your Plan?
Activity 1: Your College Plan
How long do you anticipate being in college?
How many courses will you need to take per semester to finish college in your planned time period?
What do you anticipate will be the most difficult part of completing college?
Are you confident you will be able to overcome any possible difficulties in completing college?
Were you able to easily answer the questions in this activity? How confident do you feel about your plan?
These are important questions to think about for the simple reason that students who have a clear plan and who are prepared to overcome possible obstacles are much more likely to succeed in college. In other words, just thinking in a positive way about your future can help that future come true!
What Matters to You?
Values are things that matter to a person. What makes you feel good? What things would you be doing if you had all the time, money, and opportunities in the world? Questions like these help us define our values.
Thinking about your values can help you know what you want from life and from college. Take a moment to consider Activity 2 below by rating how important each value is to you.
Activity 2: Your Values
For each item on this list, indicate how important it is to you by ranking it as very important (5), not important (0), or somewhere in between.
|Value||Not important||Very important|
|Making a good income||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Having good friends||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Learning new things about your interests||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Having a nice car||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Having intelligent conversations||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Staying current with the news||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Hanging out with friends||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Playing computer or video games||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Online social networking||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Reading a good book||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Traveling to new places||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Being liked by others||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Studying and reading textbooks||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Having nice clothing||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Enjoying time alone||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Getting out in nature||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Working your job||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Looking good, personal hygiene||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Meeting new people||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Going to movies or entertainments||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Eating nice meals out||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Exercising, being physically active||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Being your own boss||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Having a positive romantic relationship||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Engaging in your hobbies||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Setting your own schedule||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Volunteering your time for a good cause||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Going to religious services||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Talking on the telephone, texting, email||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Going to parties||0||1||2||3||4||5|
|Participating in clubs, organized activities||0||1||2||3||4||5|
Looking back at the values you rated highly (4 or 5) in Activity 2 may give a good indication of how you enjoy spending your time. Now think critically about whether or not the activities you value contribute to your college experience or distract you from your studies. Time management and dealing with distractions will be discussed more in How Can I Manage My Time and Space, but for now let’s focus on identifying what you value and how that information can help you in your college career.
Students who enter college with their eyes open and who think about their own values and motivations will be more successful. If you have a good idea of what you want from life, the rest of it can be learned. Other assessments that explore your values are available on the COS Libguide. These and other insights about yourself can help you form goals that will guide your future choices.
Liking Yourself as a Student and Why That Matters
Of all the factors that affect how well one does in college, attitude is probably the single most important. A positive attitude leads to motivation, and someone who is strongly motivated to succeed can overcome obstacles that may occur.
If you’re feeling excited, enthusiastic, capable, and confident in your new life, that’s great! But if you’re less sure how well you’ll do in your new role, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. A lot of new college students start having doubts. Some may start to feel, “I’m not a good enough student” or “I can’t keep up with all this.” Some may become fearful or apathetic.
These feelings, while a perfectly natural response to a big change in life, can hinder motivation and the ability to succeed. It’s important to align our beliefs about ourselves with our values and goals to maintain motivation and increase the likelihood of success. If you’re sure you’ll make it, you will.
Going to college presents an exciting opportunity. It’s your first step in your new life and the key to your future. Here are a few thoughts to get you started in the right direction:
- Accept responsibility for your life. You can create the life you want.
- Decide what you want to do. Then make a plan to make it happen.
- Realize you can change. Studies show it takes about 30 days to create a new habit. What is one thing you can commit to changing in the next month?
- Take positive steps towards your goals every day. Be proud of who you are and your good decisions.
- Enjoy your life! Enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and experiencing the diversity of the college experience. Most college graduates look back on their college years as one of the best periods in their whole lives.
- Thinking about your personal values and how they relate to your education can help you stay motivated to succeed in college.
- Because college is a new and different life experience for most students, taking responsibility for new freedoms and forming habits that lead to success are critical first steps.