“Success doesn’t come to you…you go to it.” This quote by Dr. Marva Collins sets the stage for the journey you are about to take. Your success, however you choose to define it, is waiting for you, and Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom (FAS: WoW) is your guide to your success. Some may believe that success looks like a straight and narrow line that connects the dots between where you are and where you are going, but the truth is that success looks more like a hot mess of twists and turns, curves and bumps, and hurdles and alternate pathways.
Putting this textbook together was challenging because there is so much to tell you as you embark on your college journey. I have worked with college students on academic success at a number of college campuses, and have hunted for the most effective and most affordable college student academic success textbook but could never find everything I wanted to teach in one book. So, I figured the answer was to write my own textbook!
Like any good research project, the outcome was not exactly what I expected. In addition to a host of true-to-life stories written by real people who have successfully navigated the journey through college, the first draft of the textbook included everything (and more) that the other similarly themed textbooks about college student academic success do. The chapters were framed by a slew of “How To” facts according to me (such as “how to efficiently take notes during a lecture and how to effectively use your preferred learning style to help you learn better”) and research-based figures according to researchers in the field of college student academic success, such as rules like “For every hour in class, successful college-level work requires about two hours of out-of-class work: reading, writing, research, labs, discussion, field work, etc.” or “A 15-credit course load is about equivalent to working a full-time job.”
Once the first draft was finished, I decided to test-drive my new textbook with the students in my First Year Experience class to see what they thought. I figured, who better to give me feedback on the textbook than actual students who would use the textbook in class, right? I gave the first draft of the textbook (facts and figures and all) to my students to read, review, and reflect upon. It turned out that the pieces that my students learned the most from were the true-to-life stories. They either didn’t read or barely glanced over the facts and figures, but provided very positive feedback (and even remembered) the words of wisdom from real people who have successfully navigated the journey through college.
I guess it makes sense; students love when real-life stories are infused into the activities and lessons. Plus, as a number of students told me, the facts and figures on topics such as note-taking and how many hours to study per week can be found by searching online and can vary per person. What really mattered to students were the real-life words of wisdom that you can’t find online. Thus, Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom (FAS: WoW as I lovingly call it) emerged.
I share this story because my intended outcome (to be the author of the world’s best open access college student academic success textbook) was not exactly what I expected it to be. The same is true of your journey through college, and you’ll read more about that in the stories right here in FAS: WoW. You’ll find that this is not your typical college textbook full of concrete facts and figures, nor does it tell you how to succeed. No textbook can truly do that for you—success is defined differently for everyone. The stories in FAS: WoW are relevant, relational, and reflective. The authors welcome you into their lives and offer ideas that ignite helpful discussions that will help succeed.
FAS: WoW introduces you to the various aspects of student and academic life on campus and prepares you to thrive as a successful college student (since there is a difference between a college student and a successful college student). Each section of FAS: WoW is framed by self-authored, true-to-life short stories from actual State University of New York (SUNY) students, employees, and alumni. You may even know some of the authors! The advice they share includes a variety of techniques to help you cope with the demands of college. The lessons learned are meant to enlarge your awareness of self with respect to your academic and personal goals and assist you to gain the necessary skills to succeed in college.
In the text, the authors tell stories about their own academic, personal, and life-career successes. When reading FAS: WoW, consider the following guiding questions:
- How do you demonstrate college readiness through the use of effective study skills and campus resources?
- How do you apply basic technological and information management skills for academic and lifelong career development?
- How do you demonstrate the use of critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems and draw conclusions?
- How do you demonstrate basic awareness of self in connection with academic and personal goals?
- How do you identify and demonstrate knowledge of the implications of choices related to wellness?
- How do you demonstrate basic knowledge of cultural diversity?
After you read each story, take the time to reflect on the lessons learned from your reading and answer the guiding questions as they will help you to connect the dots between being a college student and being a successful college student. Note your areas of strength and your areas of weakness, and develop a plan to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
I could go on and on (and on) about college student academic success, but what fun is the journey for you if I tell you everything now? You need to learn some stuff on your own, right? So, I will leave you to read and enjoy FAS: WoW with a list of tips that I share with college students as they embark on their journey to academic success:
- Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!
- Get the book(s) and read the book(s).
- Take notes in class and when reading for class.
- Know your professors (email, office location, office hours, etc.) and be familiar with what is in the course syllabus.
- Put your phone away in class.
- Emails need a salutation, a body, and a close.
- Don’t write the way you might text—using abbreviations and clipped sentences.
- Never academically advise yourself!
- Apply for scholarships…all of them!
- Speak it into existence and keep your eyes on the prize.
Enjoy the ride! Cheers,
Dr. Thomas C. Priester, firstname.lastname@example.org