By Odell Bizzell | Excerpt from 2015 Spring CLT Magazine


Wow this academic year has flown by. In a couple of months the seniors will be graduating and you will be welcoming a new class of first year and transfer students. Though it is imperative that new students are quickly indoctrinated in the specifics of the college life such as registering for classes it is of even greater importance that new students understand how to master their first year. The word mastery is seldom used in relationship to school and academics. Words and phrases like ‘graduating on time’, ‘getting good grades’, and ‘doing well’ are at the forefront of describing success in school. Mastery denotes that one has absolute authority over a particular subject matter. I want to offer 3 things for you to pass along to your first year students to help them master their first year. These 3 things will hold true whether or not your first year students are traditional or non-traditional.

(1) Make a vow that come hell or high water you will finish with high marks. Have your first year students go through a literal ceremony where they vow that they will do their best to finish on time and finish with the highest grades possi-ble. I use the word vow, versus promise because vow has a more serious con-notation. When you think of the word vow, one typically thinks of wedding or marriage vows. It takes a lot to break wedding vows, by way of divorce, so create a ceremony of some sort where your first year students make a legiti-mate vow that they will finish and every year after have an anniversary and cel-ebrate the fact they are still on the path to commencement.

(2) Help them paint a vivid picture of life after college. Most people lack clear vision. This point does not necessarily mean that as first year students they have to know exactly what they want to do or what they want to accomplish. Some will know, but most will not. Rather, help them see how they want to live after college. Who do they want to help? What type of life do they want for their family? What causes resonate with them that they’d love to be a part of? When they get to school, odds are they are waking up to go to class so they can get their degree. Help them see the biggest reason they’re waking up for after they have their de-gree. Once they can see beyond their degree it will help them get more moti-vated. Those who lack motivation have yet to see the potential of their future. By helping them paint a vivid picture of life after college you will help them see the potential in their future.

(3) Help them keep track of their wins and losses. Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed. Now we do not want our students failing a number of tests or assignments, but odds are in their academic career they will have low points, if not inside, definitely out-side of the classroom. Help them keep score of what went well and what went wrong. Have them do an exercise at various times during their first semester where they have a win column and a loss column. Wins could be good test scores, finding a new friend, increas-ing a grade, getting involved in student organization, or something else. Losses might be getting a bad grade, breaking up with a significant other, oversleep-ing, or something else. What cannot be managed cannot be mastered. All people are inherently competitive, these types of exercises helps them to com-pete with and master their most worthy adversary: themselves.


DID THIS ARTICLE GIVE YOU SOME GREAT IDEAS? If so check out my blog and learn how to help make your students unforgettable and indispensable in life, family, and work. If you are looking for a speaker for your first year students feel free to contact me at www.OdellBizzell.comUntil next time, make your life count!