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An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge (Prov 18:15).
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Prov 16:16).
Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life (Prov 4:13).
Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it (Ecc 7:11-12).
Recently I was having lunch with my friend Randy. His wife Karen is pursuing a graduate degree in education, and Randy was sharing how seriously Karen takes her education. And I found in it a lot of wisdom.
Karen Walls, as she told Randy, approaches class like a job interview. She takes each one seriously, dedicates herself to total excellence in it. And then, when she is interviewing for a job, she has an established track record of excellence.
It seems pretty simple, but I found that Karen really put education in a new, more appropriate perspective.
You’re a college student. And, by and large, the attitude of your culture towards college is that you take some classes, but college is really more of a place to grow up than anything.
Which, no. No, it is not. College isn’t designed as some sort of finishing school, or a libertarian daycare. Your professors aren’t there to teach you life lessons.
No, professors are there to teach you the academic knowledge you need for the degree you’re going for. Most of them don’t care whether you learn life lessons or not. They have hundreds of students they are trying to educate. They can’t get that involved, and that’s not their job.
Why are you really in college? Probably to get a degree to show potential employers in your field that you are competent in it.
You’re here to prepare for the job market. Which means each class is another step towards that job interview.
If you don’t treat your education with professionalism, it will be a lot bigger hurdle to approach your job interview with professionalism. Let alone approaching the job itself with professionalism.
And an added bonus? If you approach each class as a job interview, then the actual interview for employment somewhere will be just another in a long chain. The hurdle is gone. It’s something you can approach with confidence.
No longer is a job interview something to be feared. As Karen said, now you have established a track record of excellence, and the actual job interview itself is just the next step.
Think of how much more confident you will be in your job interview when you walk in familiar with it, with an established record. The pressure will be so much less!
This perspective is a huge advantage as a student and as a future job applicant.
So this semester, try this:
1. Walk into each class dressed professionally. Dress at least as well as the professor. They are dressed appropriately for their field, education. Follow their lead.
Make sure you’ve got good hygiene. Have a professional haircut. Trim your nails. Shower daily.
Dress like you would if you were walking in there for a job interview. This (a) treats your professor with respect, (b) makes you mentally take the class more seriously, (c) tells your professor that you are taking their class seriously, and (d) makes you more familiar—and thus comfortable—dressing professionally. (D) is particularly nice, since it means that, when you walk into your job interview, you are that much less concerned with how you look: you know how you look, and you’re comfortable like that.
This will probably require getting up earlier than half an hour before class. That’s a good thing. That’s a responsible thing. That’s an adult thing.
2. Sit as close to the front of the classroom as possible. This helps you pay attention better, and it also tells the professor you’re taking the class seriously. It also makes the prof more familiar with you, particularly in large lecture halls. It’s easy to be a face in a crowd in a class of 300, but sitting in the front row makes you stand out a lot more.
3. Give yourself regular work hours to do your homework. This will help you actually get the homework done by changing the way you think about it from “Oh, man, do I have enough time to do all my homework?” to “Okay, it’s time to do homework. What homework do I have?”
Don’t underestimate the power of scheduling regular homework time!
This also has an added benefit of helping you focus more when you’re doing your homework. If the time is already set aside as homework time, then your homework isn’t competing as much with your other interests. It’s not eating into your Call of Duty time, or your coffee with friends time, or whatever. You have that time in your schedule, too, and it’s not during homework time. Lastly,
4. Make yourself an office somewhere. Get out of your dorm or apartment!
Your dorm is where you live, where you sleep, and where you’re entertained. It’s where your roommate is doing all that, too. It’s the Land of a Thousand Distractions.
So leave. Leave your distractions. Go to the library. Go to a quiet coffee shop. Go to your Chi Alpha offices or your Chi Alpha house, particularly if it has a study room.
Go someplace you can put your headphones in, pull up some quiet, non-distracting music (I’ve personally found anything with lyrics distracts me, so I mostly listen to ambient music), open your laptop and your textbooks, and get stuff done.
Take your education seriously. You are spending four years of your life and thousands of dollars to get this education. You’re doing it so that you can land a good job, so you can excel in that job, and so you can earn more over your lifetime.
And you want to glorify God with your work. Including your work for your education.
So do what Karen does. Approach your class like a job interview.