Monday, January 3, 2011

Before the Semester Starts, Ask Yourself These Questions

During every semester life will have its challenging moments.  Your car might break down on the way to the testing center or proctor.  You might get sick for a week or two and have both work to make up in your job and work to make up in your class all at the same time.  Someone in your family might get ill, placing greater responsibility and more stress and emotional highs and lows on your shoulder.  Or sometimes, two or three major assignments may all come due in the same week and it might seem like you don’t have the time to do everything.  Some students weather circumstances like these resiliently.  For others, they seem like insurmountable obstacles.  Often, the difference in whether you can push through difficulties to finish your classes successfully depends on you having a clear idea of exactly why you are taking them.  It is good to plan for challenges by writing statements that answer these questions:
Why am I taking this course?
Why am I pursuing my degree?
How does what I’m learning in this class connect to my life?
What will I gain professionally from completing the course?
How will this help me achieve my goals for the next 5-10 years?
How is completing this course making my life better?
Remember that the benefit of completing some courses include meeting the requirements of a degree or transfer requirement you want.  Don’t discount a course that isn’t inherently interesting to you if it takes you a step closer to your degree.  Completing each step towards a program can be a very satisfying accomplishment!
Once you have answered these questions with strong statements that express your current motivations, write them on index cards or post-it notes and place them in locations where you can see them regularly.  If you get discouraged or frustrated during the semester, these notes will help you remember why all the trouble of completing your coursework is worth the effort!

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