Subject: Success in
August 20, 2014
Winfield H. Rose, Professor of Political Science
The suggestions below are offered to you in the hope they will help
you have a successful college career. Please consider them.
Be a winner -
Reading a daily newspaper is a great way to open your eyes and expand
- First and foremost, remember that you are responsible for your
- not your parents, not your teachers, not your friends, but you.
Accepting responsibility is one of the most important parts of growing
- Study and learn the bulletin (catalog): requirements,
prerequisites, etc. Your advisor and professors may not remember to
you every detail you need to know. Again, this is your responsibility.
- Start a file. You need a safe place to keep important
information about scholarships, your MAP and grade reports, transcript,
- Get to know your advisor. Your advisor can and should be
important friend on campus. If he or she appears uninterested, you
get another one.
- Consider study abroad. There are several programs, KIIS
for example that make study in other countries possible. Such study
be an excellent educational experience and also would look good on
- Be sure to preregister during preregistration. If you
late registration, many if not most (if not all) of the classes you
or need will be closed; and, the later you wait, the worse the problem
will be. Be sure to consult with your advisor and be sure to prepare a
tentative schedule ahead of time. Never go to your advisor and expect
to prepare your schedule for you - that is your responsibility.
- Get involved in campus life but don’t overdo it.
residential college is a good place to start and there are numerous
professional, and honorary organizations on campus. Remember,
they are the icing, not the cake.
- Be sure to attend class the first day and every day after
Some students get the strange notion that it is not necessary to attend
class the first day. That is a terrible mistake because subjects will
addressed that day which will never be mentioned again - that is, until
the deadline has passed and you are losing a grade letter a day for not
having your term paper ready. Other students attend the first day
but become lackadaisical after that; they stay up too late and then
or they schedule doctor's and dentist's appointments during class time,
or they decide to use the time to study for a test in another class,
so forth. That is not good. There is no substitute for
While occasional absences may be unavoidable, it is not right to expect
your friends to take notes for you on a regular basis.
- Speaking of taking notes, you should always take good notes.
That goes without saying. What is even better is recopying them
class as soon as possible. This will enable you to insert
you remember but did not have time to record in class.
- Read the syllabus for each course carefully and
professor is supposed to give you a syllabus the first day of class; if
you do not receive one, ask about it. This syllabus is, in
a contract betrween you and the instructor and it should contain all
information you need to succeed in the class. This syllabus will
not do you any good if you do not read it and, surprisingly, some
do not bother to read it. That is a big mistake!
- Consider the Bachelor of Arts degree. Yes, it requires
of a foreign language but today’s world is very competitive
interrelated. We often hear such terms as "international marketplace"
"global village." A European I once met apologetically stated that he
fluent in "only" three languages; yet many Americans are not really
even in their own. If nothing else, studying a foreign language is an
way to learn English.
- Don’t avoid the more rigorous courses and teachers.
may tell you that Dr. So-and-so is really hard and that he requires -
all things - a twenty-page paper! In twenty years you will look
and remember you learned something in this class whereas the pushovers
will have faded into oblivion.
- Don’t forget your minor. In addition to a
need a minor. You don’t have to make these choices the first day
but you will have to make them eventually.
- Go to the library and learn your way around in it. It is
place and contains lots of good books, the accumulated knowledge and
of the ages. Consider checking one out and reading it. The
also is a good place to meet studious friends.
- Another thing you need is to become computer literate,
you are not already. It is the wave of the future and cannot be
- One of the most essential ingredients to success anywhere,
to manage your time. Don’t get behind in your
Buy a campus planner and use it faithfully!
- If you want to get a job after graduation, or to attend graduate
school, you will probably need letters of recommendation from
and perhaps others. If you want them to say something good about
you, remember you will need to have done something good. If your
MSU career has been decidedly mediocre, what is there to say to cause
admissions committee or an employer to select you over someone
Life is competitive. The Law School Admission Council
form contains the following guidance for the recommender: "Law schools
value your candid appraisal of the applicant's ability, academic and
to study law, including qualities of mind and character, dedication,
and readiness for the rigors of advanced academic study. Evidence
of overcoming adversity, rising to challenges, and achieving beyond
expectations are helpful in assessing candidates for admission."
- ABOVE ALL ELSE, remember what you are here for. You are
obtain a college education first and foremost, not to play sports, not
to join a fraternity, and not to find a spouse. Even though you may
do one or all of these things, they should come second, third, or
not first. You should be different for having spent four or more
years of your life here. You should think, speak, and act better
and you should know more than your high school friend who chose not to
pursue advanced education. If you do not, you have failed and we
have failed. Do not seek to do as little as you can to get by,
seek to do as much as you can to excel. Work hard. Learn
grow. Make the most of your time here. As the movie The
Dead Poets' Society proclaimed, "Carpe
diem!" There are real
and tangible differences between successful and unsuccessful
people. Put another
you are here to acquire the "Characteristics
of a Murray State University Graduate."
- One of the marks of an educated person is possessing a
of good books. While not all books are of equal value, you
should keep most, if not all, of the textbooks and other books you use
while in college. What little money you might get from
them back to the bookstore will be far outweighed down through the
of your life by having those books available for future use. Let
them form the core of your personal library and then add others to
them. The same applies to renting your books. If you rent,
you cannot mark in them and you will obviously have to return them, so
I do not recommend renting textbooks even though buying them often is
very expensive. (You can often get good buys on used copies on
And, remember what the quote below says about newspapers applies just
well to books.
- One final point. Remember that learning must be an
If you quit learning upon graduation, you will be obsolete almost
Benjamin Franklin said there were two certainties in life, death and
but there is at least one more: change. In this regard I
something I found in a newspaper some time ago:
your horizons. Every time you pick one up, you're improving your
chances of doing well in
school, in work, and in life. Reading gives you the knowledge to
compete and the confidence
to succeed, and that makes you a winner in any league!
This is a good quote. Students of political science and
sociology study not only the past but the present and the future.
They study not only to know but, more importantly, to understand.
You do not live in isolation; there is a great big world out
there and what happens in it is important. Newspapers provide
information and "op-ed" editorials and columns provide explanations and
interpretations. So, read and learn something new every
day. Make something of
yourself. It's your life and
Excellence is a habit, not an act.