You’re about to meet Andrea. This is the first in a number of stories that will show college students in typical real-life situations. These are not stories that happen occasionally. I chose these stories because they are situations that are happening right now all over the country. Andrea represents thousands of students in her predicament.
After talking to students one-on-one for 25 years, I became an expert on the problems that defeat college students. That’s why I wrote my College Smart book series. I’m using my insights to help you avoid these mistakes. The 12 Strategies will guide you.
Andrea was clearly unhappy, discouraged, and depressed. I talked with her after a clearly disastrous first semester in college. Her GPA was bad news even though she had graduated with honors from a good high school.
The first thing I discovered about her was that she didn’t spend nearly enough time studying. She agreed, “Okay, more time studying.”
At the end of the second semester, she saw me again. Her grades hadn’t gone up very much at all. “What do I do now? What am I doing wrong?” she asked. With her grades, she was hanging on by her finger nails.
She was afraid to go home for the summer to face her parents.
“What if I get kicked out of college? What if I have to go back home for good? Mom will go bonkers. My dad will give me pamphlets about joining the army. Green is just not my color, and I’ve never gotten up ‘at dawn’ in my life.”
When she returned to the start of her sophomore year, she had new determination. We agreed that she needed to look at college study from all angles. Andrea knew she had to make some big changes.
See her conversation with Bob and discover what changes Andrea made by reading pages 7-8 in Dr. Bob’s College Smart book. (Do we want to include conversation? If so, I have it inserted below.)
The next semester Andrea showed me her grades. She had them enlarged to poster size at a print shop on campus, and she now could look at them on her dorm wall. Every day they reminded her that she was moving in the right direction.
At the time I talked with Andrea, I hadn’t yet written my book, but she, and thousands like her, let me see where and how real-life students need help with all kinds of problems. The 12 Strategies grew out of our work together during these conferences. The Strategies are the real-deal.
Andrea didn’t become a straight-A student right away, but after two more semesters, she was on a roll. By her senior year, her grade point average was 3.50. Graduation was a real celebration! Her dad and mom were ecstatic. And the US Army just had to get along without her!
Conversation Excluded from Above:
Dr. Bob: Okay, you’ve been studying more; you went from 10 hours a week to 20. This semester you want to be up to 25-30.
Andrea: That’s like a full-time job!
Dr. Bob: Now let’s look at HOW you study.
She took a notebook out of her backpack.
Dr. Bob: Where do you study?
Andrea: In my dorm room.
Dr. Bob: That’s too distracting. Find new study places.
Dr. Bob: How about the library? Lots of quiet, out-of-the-way corners there. Dorms have study rooms; and I know the Union has study areas. But find a quiet one, not a social one.
Andrea: Right. In fact, the dorm next to mine has a basement study area.
She was taking lots of notes.
Dr. Bob: Andrea, when do you study?
Andrea: All the time.
Dr. Bob: No you don’t. Do you study at 3:00 a.m.?
Andrea: Sometimes—especially if I have a test the next day.
I put my head in my hands.
Andrea: Did I say something wrong? Do you have a headache, Dr. Neuman?
Dr. Bob: No, but I’m on the way to one. Andrea, now take some very careful notes for yourself.
#1: I’m going to get out of the dorm room. It’s too distracting.
#2: I’ll make a daily and weekly Map, AND STICK TO IT.
#3: I’ll increase my study time to 30 hours each week, studying regularly for each course and keeping up with them all.
#4: I’ll take time to eat and sleep.
#5: When I follow a map without turning my days upside down, I’ll be studying better.
#6: Studying is like playing an instrument—the more I practice, the better I’ll get.
Andrea: Maybe I can learn to play the banjo! That was just a little joke, Dr. Neuman. You’re supposed to laugh.
Dr. Neuman: Hah!
Andrea: I get it, I get it! Studying is a process, and unless I find the steps to the process, I’ll just stay stuck in neutral, and my grades will stay the same.
Dr. Bob: No. In fact, if you stay in neutral they’ll probably go down because your courses are getting harder.
I had hardly finished my sentence and Andrea was up from her chair, backpack on her shoulder, and shaking my hand. “Dr. Neuman, I’m going to do it!”