Advice to a student who wants to do better.

Here are some words that I wrote for a student who needed to make a case for himself to a committee that reviewed the cases of struggling students.

You can make a strong case for yourself by demonstrating your readiness to:

  1. make fuller use of the resources available to you at the college
  2. commit to investing the necessary number of hours per day in your studies
  3. separate yourself from the distractions outside of class that have interfered with your academic efforts

You can make fuller use of available resources by visiting with your advisor and instructors. You can draw upon the help of the staff in the Center for Teaching and Learning (including, for example, the people int the Center’s Writing Studio) and librarians. If you show your instructors the progress you are making at each stage and ask for guidance, they will be able to help you achieve your goals.

To succeed, a student must not only attend classes faithfully,  but also study for several hours per day outside of class. At college, study is each student’s full-time job. The total number of hours invested in study (in and out of the classroom) should approximate the number of hours worked in a full-time job. Many students underestimate the amount of time that they must invest in their studies. Other students budget enough hours for study but have not learned how to use that time most effectively. Passive reading seldom gets the job done. Writing, solving problems, and a vigorous give and take in discussions with classmates accomplish more. How much time and effort have you invested in your studies in the past? How much are willing to invest in the coming year?

The committee is sympathetic to earnest students. Unfortunately, not all of the students whose records the committee reviews are serious. Some students do not know why they are at our college. They are indifferent about their studies. Some are focused too heavily on social opportunities. Poor personal habits adversely affect physical and emotional health. In the worst cases, personal choices not only limit the student’s own prospects of academic success, but also detract from the quality of the experiences enjoyed by classmates. Do not make a detailed confession, but acknowledge mistakes you may have made in the past and convince the committee that you are in the first category of earnest students.


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