In “New Semester Reset,” I provide step-by-step instructions for developing an intentional approach to college. What follows complements that post, in that it highlights and defines the qualities at the core of the intentional approach.
- Awareness: Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the effects of your actions, habits, and attitudes on your learning. Act upon this awareness. You absolutely cannot be intentional if you stumble obliviously through your days. Taking the time to honestly reflect on the reasons for your academic successes, struggles, and failures will lead you to this awareness. To act upon your awareness, you need to determine how your strengths, weaknesses, actions, etc. might need to change or be enhanced for the achievement of success. For the same reason you need to change your problem areas, you also need to capitalize on your strengths —> Don’t sacrifice enhancement of your strengths by focusing more or solely on your weaknesses. Both need to be lifted or one will eventually or continue to fall. If you hit a roadblock trying to determine these changes and enhancements, ask your advisor, a favorite professor, or me for help.
- Reflection: This is crucial to achieving awareness. Develop the habit of self-reflection by keeping a learning log or journal. Spend a little time each day or a few days a week reflecting on the what and why of your successes, struggles, and failures–no matter how small. Write these in your log or journal. While daily reflection is ideal, it may not be realistic for you early in your transformation to an Intentional Student. It’s perfectly okay to develop this gradually as a daily habit.
- Planning: You must become a planner! Plan your study time, your reflection time, your free time. Get and use a calendar! That hour between classes–what should you do with it? Is it the best time to eat, to study, to reflect, to relax? “Wait, what? Relax? Plan to relax?” you may be asking. Yes, you must be intentional about relaxation and social time. If that time isn’t planned, you will spend either too much time on these or not enough —> Down time is crucial to a successful and healthy approach to college. It will keep you mentally and physically balanced.
- Attitude: Maintain a positive attitude by acknowledging every single positive aspect of your days. Express your gratitude to those who grace you with moments of kindness and generosity–no matter how small. Celebrate your daily successes–no matter how small. Psychology– and education-based research proves that a positive mindset leads to a less stressful and more successful life, strengthens confidence, and boosts your brain power making learning easier.
Being aware, reflecting, planning, and maintaining a positive attitude are at the heart of the intentional approach to college. The beauty of these actions is that they will serve you well not only in college but also in the real world.