The Balance of Work

Dear College Student,

Many of you will remember the legend of John Henry, the man who competed against a steam powered machine to dig a tunnel through a mountain for a railroad. He was a hardworking man and ended up winning the contest, only to die in the process. College can sometimes feel like it will kill you with all the work you put in, so it is important to learn how to work smarter, not harder. In order to succeed and get enough sleep, you’ll need to combine the hard work habits you have, with the tips and tricks you find along the way.

Let me tell you about my freshman year of college. At the start I went to class every day, did all my homework, took lots of notes, attended every T.A. session, did everything to succeed and for the first month of school I was slammed. I had so much going on academically, that my social life was left to the late hours of the evening, leaving me little time to sleep. I was wearing my body down and knew something was going to have to give, because I couldn’t keep up that routine.

I went in to take my first test and realized that while I learned all of these cool new things, I had wasted lots of time learning material that wasn’t tested on. I was upset because I felt like I used all this time studying that I could have used to catch up on sleep. As I reviewed in my mind what was on the test, I realized that when we got study guides or had review sessions, they told us exactly what would be on the test, and that was really the only information I needed to learn.

Being the smug, freshman I was, I slept through some classes, stopped learning all this extra material, and instead focused on the few places I knew I would learn what would be on the test. I went from spending hours a day on my classes, to just a couple hours before the test going to reviews to learn what would be tested on and then studying those things.

My guess is you’ll be surprised to learn that my test average actually went up during this time. I believe that was due to being fully awake and attentive as I did study and take the tests. People would ask me how it was that they spent 15 hours studying for a test and went to class every day, but still did worse than a kid who didn’t go to class and spent about 2 hours studying. The answer, is I had figured out the game of test taking in college.

Each person’s college experience is different, so I’m not suggesting you follow in my footsteps and skip class, but what I am saying is you need to start looking at your courses as a game. Each one has a lot of obstacles, but usually there is shortcut you can take. As you examine your courses, I’m sure you too will find ways you can achieve better results and save time.

Sincerely,

Your College Advisor

Do you have any good College Tips? Feel free to send them to me!

What’s Your Batting Average?

Dear College Student,

If you have ever played or watched baseball, you will know that one of the key statistics examined is the batting average, or the percent of at bats that generate a hit. The success of the player is literally measured on a ratio of success and failure, and if they don’t succeed often enough, they will be kicked off the roster and replaced by someone who will perform. In college, it can often feel as though we are being compared to others based on our averages, the ratio of job interviews we get, grad schools we are admitted to, social events we attend, ect. This leads to a fear of failure, lack of confidence, and an overall shortage self-worth. We put ourselves in this safe bubble where we know we will succeed, and never push our limits.

I used to think this exact way, I wouldn’t ask out a girl that was out of my league, take a hard class, or apply for a job that I didn’t think I would get. Luckily, one day, I was with a friend and he shared with me this quote, “To get up one more time than you fall is to be a winner. To stay down is to be a loser.” I realized that we create our opportunities, and the only way we fail, is if we fail to give ourselves another chance to succeed.

As I thought more and more about this, something switched in my head one day that has changed my life. I realized that if I didn’t apply for a job, or ask out that really cute girl, I was disqualifying myself from even succeeding. By taking a risk and getting out of my comfort zone, the worst thing that can happen, is I end up in the exact same spot I was if I never even took the risk. As I started taking risks, I noticed that I was more successful than I could have imagine.

For example, my freshman year, I applied for an on-campus internship to try to get job experience and prepare myself for future employment opportunities. When I went to meet with the advisor, he told me 150 people applied, 40 spots were filled, 5 spots were left, but there were many upperclassmen who had more experience. He basically told me there was no chance of me being one of the five selected but encouraged me to start doing things to help my resume and apply early for next year. Two days later, to my utter amazement, I received an email notifying me that I got one of the 5 spots for the internship. To this day, I still don’t know why I was selected, but I’m grateful I had applied and gone for an interview, even though the odds were not in my favor.

So, this week, id invite you to TAKE A RISK!!! Go and ask out that cute girl in your English class, apply for that job you still feel unqualified for, or call that friend who you lost when you came to college. I can’t promise that the result this time will be the one you want, but I can promise you that if you adopt this mindset and take risks, doors will be opened to you that you couldn’t even dream of.

Sincerely,

Your College Advisor

Who Can Help You Plant a Tree?

Dear College Student,

 

This week I had the opportunity to talk with Austin Smith, entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. He started an online toy company called Red Wagon Toys in college while getting his MBA and later sold it. He had great insights that he shared with me, but I want to focus on two pieces of advice that stuck out to me

First, the relationships and network that you create in college are just as important, if not more important than the things you learn. Think about it, there are thousands of kids across the country that, at their respective universities, are learning pretty much the same thing you are. Now when you go to try to get a job, it is hard for an employer to distinguish between the thousands of kids with similar GPA’s and backgrounds. It really all comes down to who you know, not what you know.

This was made clear to me a few years back when I was trying to get my first internship. While playing golf with a friend, I mentioned I had applied several places and just wasn’t getting the response I wanted. He told me to forward him my resume and a month later I was the newest intern at a Fortune 200 company, an even better job that I was originally applying for.

Second, don’t just talk, plan, and imagine about doing things, go and do it for real. Too often we have great dreams and ideas in our head but tell ourselves “one day.” There is danger in the word someday, because it really just means not today, but there is no better time than the present to take the first step to living your dreams. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: The best time to plant a fruit tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is today.

Last week, after much procrastination, I finally started working on my dream of blogging. I would love your support as I continue this journey! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE subscribe below or follow us on Instagram at Dear_CollegeStudent!

 

Sincerely,

Your College Advisor

 

PS: Suggested Reading list

Reach, Don’t Settle

Dear College Student,

Recently, I read the book Shoe Dog, the auto-biography of the life of Phil Knight. It follows his life year by year from the time he decided to travel the world which lead to the foundation of Nike, up until the time he wrote the book. He had many inspirational things to say, and I would highly recommend the read, but today I want to focus on something he shared at the end of the book. He said,

 

reach

 

As I read this quote, I was lost for a few weeks. I didn’t understand how to identify a calling or passion because I felt it was something that was bigger than myself. It wasn’t until weeks later someone told me that your passion is the thing you think about when you have nothing else to worry about.

So I ask you what is your passion or calling? What is the thing that occupies your thoughts in the early hours of the morning and what are you going to do about it? Now is the time we have, because once we have settled for a profession or career, it will be increasingly harder to follow your calling. So do as my Mom has told me, and REACH don’t settle.

Sincerely,

Your College Advisor

 

PS: Suggested Reading

What If

Dear College Student,

what if.jpg

What if I had studied a little harder? What if I had gone on that trip? What if I had studied Finance instead of rec management? What if I had talked to that girl? Or not bailed on that date with that guy? What if I had gone to a different university? What if I had taken a different job?

All of these are questions that one may ask themselves years down the road, after they are at a destination that is a culmination of all their life choices. All of these questions also have a theme, they are not reflecting on things they have done, but self-reflecting questions of things they chose not to do.

There was a study done where they talked to 100 elderly people who were on their hospital beds and asked them what their biggest regret was. Nearly all of them said they regretted not the things they did, but the things they didn’t do. The risks they didn’t take, the decisions they didn’t make, and the paths they decided not to take.

Each of you has a gift, talent, dream, or passion and now is the time to make it a reality.  In college, you can be anyone you want to be, and take risks like you will never be able to later in your life. So take that risk, make that decision and do what it takes to make your dream a reality. That way in 20 years you won’t look back and ask yourself “What If?”

Sincerely,

Your College Advisor