Three things I learned about a guy’s academic success on Instagram – Campus News
By Nancy M. Scuri
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “Don’t be the smartest person in the room”. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy, of course. Instead, look for people who are experts in their field, so you can learn from them. Now, I’m no one’s financial advisor, so I look for people who do this stuff for a living, and then I take what works for me. In this case, I came across Ramit Sethi. He is good at breaking things down into simple concepts and helping people find their own solutions.
In an Instagram post, he discusses how not planning ahead can lead to financial ruin. Specifically, he’s talking about people who will buy a house, change jobs, and then buy a car within a year. Sounds good, until a small setback turns into big trouble. He says if you lose your job or your car dies, do what you have to do, but if you can avoid the chaos, why not? Why not, indeed. We don’t “do everything” with just money either. Think about the last New Year. What are some of the resolutions you have heard? “I’m going to get in shape… I’m getting organized…” So what’s going on? Gyms and office supply stores are packed with people in January, but in March and April, workout equipment and everything else gathers dust. Everyone comes with good intentions, but it’s easy to overdo it, get overwhelmed, and quit out of frustration. Fortunately, there is an alternative. As Ramit says, the key is to plan. Treat the new school year like it’s a smarter version of New Year’s. There are a number of ways you can do this. One is to focus on one major problem. Maybe you haven’t given yourself enough time to finish your homework in the past, so for a semester just focus on starting early and giving yourself time to finish before the deadline. Once it becomes second nature, tackle another issue, like scheduling regular visits to the tutoring center.
Another is to take small bites of a few things you want to work on. This could include taking ten minutes before each class to review your notes and reading assignments, finding a study group for a difficult topic, or listening to podcasts related to your major while you’re in your car. Take the time to figure out what your biggest challenges are and think about sustainable ways to address them.
Second, don’t underestimate psychology. When it comes to finances, Ramit advises not to consider a “magic number” or a situation as a condition of happiness. His example is of a couple who earn six figures, have no debt and have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, but who don’t go on vacation or invest their money because they’re afraid not having enough and losing everything they worked for. As a result, they keep every available dollar in the bank and cannot bring themselves to take advantage of it. Trade dollars for grades, and you can see how easy it is to get caught up in overvaluing one aspect of college life over everything else. This does NOT mean that grades are not important. That would be like telling someone that saving is not important, and that would be silly. What I’m saying is that while grades have their place when it comes to academic progress, access to financial aid and all that, it’s not the only thing. Everyone knows this student who is completely absorbed by his notes. They settle into the library, cram in all the extra credits available, and live and die by their GPA. You must have a balance. Work on the mind, absolutely, you are in school to learn. However, if you don’t pay attention to your physical and mental well-being, it will catch up with you in ways you won’t like. Celebrate your successes, take the lesson when things don’t go your way, and keep moving forward. A perfect GPA is wonderful, but it’s not the only thing.
Finally, there is living a rich life. It means you’re cutting out what doesn’t add to your happiness, while making the most of what you have right now. Ramit talks about streamlining your finances, so you can focus on whatever helps improve your life. One of the things I regret about my time as a student, undergraduate, and graduate is that I didn’t spend enough time appreciating what was available to me. I attended my classes, I went to the library to do homework, then I ran to my daily work. I never attended games, went to events or even hung out with my classmates. It may sound silly now, but having great experiences and making lifelong friends is never a waste of time.
So what’s the next step? Take the first week or two of the semester to figure out what to focus on and look for ways to do it while having fun. Doing a little once in a while is better than trying to do it all at once. Also, remember to enjoy the process and stay in the moment. Nothing is ever perfect, but no matter where you are, you can always find something amazing. It all starts now.
Nancy Scuri is a freelance writer and editor with over fifteen years of teaching experience at the college level. You can reach her at www.nmscuri.com.