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College Survival Guide: By-Passing Academic Meltdown


College students

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First in a series on College Student Survival…

I’m wondering if you will relate to this story of my experiences at the University of Florida. Maybe my painful lessons will help you avoid academic meltdown. It’s a miracle that I can share a happy ending.

In high school, I was interested in science, physics, geometry and how things worked. I’m a hands-on guy with an active imagination. Ergo, my high school counselor and parents said I should be an engineer. While my high school GPA was B+, my self-confidence and learning skills were shaky.

My primary focus as I began my academic journey was on exploring newly found freedom and getting away from my parents. Joining a fraternity and being on the freshman tennis team was a wonderful way of life except for the academic thing. Grades were sub-par. I had a difficult time in lecture classes and struggled with homework involving logic and accuracy. My saving grace was courses involving hands-on skills and big concepts without details and accuracy. Most of my fraternity brothers were making good grades and setting their sights on a career. I felt stupid and lost.

I voluntarily enlisted in the Navy two semesters from a possible, but not likely, graduation. Academic probation and failing grades in thermodynamics and advanced differential equations made the decision easy. It took three days in Memphis boot camp to figure out what went wrong and what I really wanted. You probably already know. I was highly successful making friends and taking on fraternity leadership roles because this was what I wanted. Yes, the law of attraction really works. It hit me like a freight train that what I really wanted was a career, great job, family and self-respect. Was it too late to reverse the trend?

I focused my thoughts on how to get back to the U of F and talk the Dean into giving me a second chance. Guess what happened? My officers shortened my active enlistment. The Dean of Engineering accepted me back. He listened when I told him about my preference for hands-on, visual and self-directed learning and customized my final courses. The bottom-line is that I made the Deans List two consecutive semesters and graduated with my degree in Electrical Engineering.

What do you really want your college experiences and outcomes to be? Make them real through visualization, “dream boards” and talking about them with others. You increase the probability of achieving your desired outcome when your emotions are positive and strong. It’s like putting yourself on GPS navigation. Be careful of what you think about and really want because you are likely to get it. As I said, the law of attraction really works.

The other lesson I learned is that teaching styles are often different than your learning style. I am still a kinesthetic and visual learner who prefers right brain, open ended thinking. This is why I had such a hard time in lectures and courses involving logic, detail and accuracy. Today I know how to adapt to any learning situation or topic. Neuroscience really works to help you live the life of your dreams.

Author Message:
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