We’re Not Optional

If you are new to the College you are probably a bit surprised to find out that we demand things of you. We expect you to show up, get outside your comfort zone, engage with people different from you, keep pace and contribute to what we are trying to achieve. When you fail to do this, we will get after you. If you fail to do this repeatedly, we will ask you to find another college to call home.

Why the hard line you ask? Isn’t what you do in college supposed to be your choice? Isn’t this the place where you can personalize your experience and discover who you are? Yes and no. Getting to the one—developing a unique set of experiences and talents that will make you of value in the world and get you the career and life you seek requires some personal choice. This is why we have electives and a vast number of co-curricular activities from which you can choose. But a successful college experience also requires that you be engaged in what you are doing– willing to take risks, willing to participate in your classes, willing to be outside your comfort zone and willing to share your experiences and views with people different from yourself. It also requires that you master a common body of knowledge and learn to use that knowledge to take action. Frankly you will not succeed here or in life if you aren’t willing to develop these qualities and skill sets. Worse yet, your unwillingness to sign on to this journey diminishes the college for the rest of us.

That’s because learning is social. Education is a collective good. What we demand of ourselves matters. The failure of one of us to show up, bring our A game, and engage reduces the experience for all of us. That just won’t do here. So, if you find that we ask too much of you. That we don’t inspire you to learn or that you would rather be doing different things. That’s okay. You have choices and we’re sure you’ll find another college or university that better meets your needs. But we will not yield to you. The rest of us are committed to building something great together. Sorry, but we believe we’re not optional.

Your Class Might be in the Alumni Center

If your class meets face-to-face for the first time today, you are likely in one of our REAL Courses—the format that is replacing lecture capture.  If so, your class is probably meeting in the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.  We’ve had to rent out FAIRWINDS while we prepare to renovate space in BA-1 to accommodate the new format.  By fall, all of our REAL courses will meet in BA-1.  By spring 2019, Lecture Capture will be a thing of the past.

As you enter these group sessions, keep in mind that the new format changes the role of the faculty member in the learning process.  Rather than lecturers, faculty are content curators, facilitators and de-briefers interested in developing student competencies through real world application. This means it’s important that you come prepared for these sessions.  You are no long passive consumers of lecture content.  Instead, you are an active participant in learning.  If you are unprepared, it’s going to be obvious to everyone.

Feedback from last semester suggests that the vast majority of students very much enjoyed the group sessions and felt they facilitated learning.  Many students also appreciated the adaptive learning technology, which allows students to work at their own pace and re-examine material when needed.  Keep in mind though that this new technology doesn’t allow you to postpone everything to the last minute—staying on schedule and completing each section is a key to success in these courses. Also, remember just because you aren’t meeting with the instructor in class every week, you still have the ability to meet with faculty and T.A.s during office hours and interact with your fellow students who are taking the course.  So get help when you need it.


A Request from our Technology Team

The tech staff tells me that Lonny Butcher keeps breaking the “N” key on his computer.  If you are a GEB student in one of the professional development courses, help him out by doing the assignments you say you will do.  That way, Lonny won’t have to respond with that key when he is reading excuses about why you didn’t do what you were supposed to do and that you require special dispensation.  Unfortunately, none of us are that special.  Your career plan is not as solid as you think and while you may think what he is telling you is common sense, the data shows that it’s not common for people to do what they “know” is sensible. The purpose of education isn’t knowledge, its action. Learning to be a professional means doing what needs to be done, every day, whether you want to do it or not.  That’s how you make a good impression here, get noticed,  earn an internship and eventually land the career you seek.

So, do our tech team a favor.  Do what you say you’re going to do on that career plan. Put what you think you know to use.  Do something with it that will get you to where you want to go and save Lonny’s “N” key from overuse.

How to End Meaningless Bowl Games

Instead of bowl games being seen as the end of the season, what if we viewed them as the first game of a new season. Have the wins and losses count in the total for the new year, considered in the rankings etc.

Sure the seniors who start the bowl game won’t be there in the fall and the new freshmen have yet to arrive, but the seniors have an opportunity to ‘gift a win’ to the underclassmen and pass the baton in a meaningful way. None of the games would be meaningless. Everyone would bring their A game and given the pecking order of the bowls, the vast majority of these games would be highly competitive.


My Quotes to Ponder in the New Year

I got another Tim Farriss book for Christmas this year.  This one is called Tribe of Mentors and contains a series of interviews with highly successful people who were all asked the same set of questions.  One of the questions is what advice they would give a smart, driven college student about to enter the real world.  My two favorite responses…

The first, was from Ashton Kutcher who answered: “Be polite, on time and work really **** hard until you are talented enough to be blunt, a little late, and take vacations and even then …… be polite.”   Yep, in an increasingly uncivilized world, where rudeness is seen as the best way to get your way,  a little politeness goes a long way.

The other was from Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and Co-founder of VaynerMedia: “Macro patience, micro speed.  They should not care about the next eight years, but they should stress the next eight days.”  He went on to note that most people are very impatient about achieving really long-term, life-defining goals, but they waste their days and do nothing of value while worrying about their years.  He suggests reversing this, becoming super vigilant about how you are spending the next ten minutes or day and understanding that the long-term stuff will take care of itself.   This is really smart.  I’m not a college student, but I’m adopting that mindset right now….

Classes start Monday.  Be Ready.  Charge On.