I posted this to my daughter on Facebook earlier today. John seemed to think it was blog-worthy. So here you go:
As we move our oldest into her dorm today, I thought I would give her (and maybe all of the others starting college this week) one last Dad lecture. But this one's a little different--it comes from twenty years experience as a college professor. In fact, I give this same lecture to all of my students. Here are 3 things I've seen lead to success for students:
1) Go to class: This might seem obvious, but for some reason students forget. Even if your professors don't take attendance, there is a direct correlation between the number of times you go to class and how well you do in class. Why? Because it is in class where you figure out what the professor wants, how they think and what is needed. I don't play favorites in the classroom, but those who come to class do better (even if they fall asleep). It's that simple. Get your butt out of bed and go to class.
2) I have no idea what you will use any of this for...and neither do you. Just yesterday I was sitting in my office trying to remember how to work with natural logarithms. If you would've asked me my freshman year what I would ever use a natural logarithm for, I would have told you I have no clue. And that's the point. There's not a single professor who can predict what you will be or how you will use anything you learn. And neither can you. Don't dismiss learning just because you don't know what you are going to do with it. Learn a lot. You just might use it some day. And even if you don't use it yourself, you might have to help your kids with their homework someday.
3) Think big: A lot of students show up at college thinking they either already know or need to quickly figure out who they are going to be for the rest of their life. They think they need to narrow themselves down to fit in a little box of a major. Don't think that way. You have the rest of your life to limit yourself. Now is the time to explore, to think different, to express ideas and be proven wrong, to express ideas and prove your professors wrong, to meet new people, to find out who they are, and then to find out who you are. In short, now is a time to learn. So don't limit yourself by what you think others want you to be. Be yourself, once you figure out who that is.
Even though we will miss seeing you every day, we wouldn't change a thing. We are proud of who you are and who you are going to become.
Now get your butt out of bed and go to class.