Author and BYU-Idaho administrator Henry J. Eyring says taking charge of your college education is the key to success.
OVERCOMING THE FOUR EDUCATIONAL SHORT COMINGS
To overcome these shortcomings you must become your own general contractor and take personal responsibility on designing and building your education. There are seven general contractor rules to overcome these shortcomings.
1. Graduating with a four year degree in just four years is difficult.
a. Always have a career dream: A common mistake is choosing a college major before thinking seriously about what kind of career you’re targeting. The only way to know whether a career is right for you is to try it out. The sooner you make your best guess, the sooner you’ll begin to learn who you are and who you’re not. The best time to start thinking about a career is in high school.
b. Always have a major: Acting as if you know where you’re going and beginning to move down that path is the best way to find out whether you’re right. The sooner you start making educated guesses, the sooner you’ll hit on the right answer. The worst major is undeclared.
c. Do your best work: Be a focused student. Be especially careful about working your way through college. As a general rule, you need to allocate at least two hours of out-of-class study time for every hour you spend in class. For example, if you are taking fifteen credit hours, you’ll want to spend at least thirty hours each week doing homework.
2. Many undergraduate majors and even some graduate programs aren’t designed to ensure job-readiness.
a. Customize your degree: Many majors presume you’re going on to graduate school in that same field so one important way to make yourself more marketable in the workforce without having to go to graduate school is to broaden your education by adding a minor to your major. BEWARE OF MAJORS THAT REQUIRE TOO MANY CREDIT HOURS. You want the majority of the courses in your major to be significantly related to your future education and career plans.
3. Good grades alone don’t guarantee real learning or preparation for life after graduation.
a. Connect your degree with what comes next: The best way to connect your degree with what comes next is through off-campus internships. Real-world experience is vital to gain employment after graduation.
b. Get all the high stake judgment decision making skills you can get: Look for courses, extracurricular activities, and internships that let you practice making decisions, regardless of the subject matter.
4. Professors with both the talent and the time to nurture students are rare.
a. Find the best teachers: Don’t take classes, take professors. The safest way to find a great professor is to get your own information. Talk directly to people who have taken a class from the professor. Better yet, attend the class yourself. You could even visit the professor during office hours.
Henry J. Eyring is an administrator at Brigham Young University-Idaho. For more information or to submit a question about education or career plans go to www.majordecisionsforcollege.com.