Every Student Needs a Success Plan

Updated Dec 29, 2013

All of us have heard the expression, getting from point “A” to point “B.” On the surface it seems pretty simple. If we use today’s technology, we will just use our GPS and we can drive to our destination. There are some things that we just take for granted. Should our educational pursuits be one of them? Is it OK to just put our goals and dreams on auto pilot and think that we will achieve them? Of course not as our life’s journey takes all of us in different directions and we have to adjust along the way.

As young students in grade school, we were told to go to school, follow the teacher’s directions and do your homework. At my house, I didn’t question those directives. They seemed easy enough to follow and besides my friends were doing the same thing. It was because of this early foundation given to me by my parents that subsequently I began to shape my future. I enjoyed school and all that went along with it. The combination of my school environment, my community and my parents all contributed to my healthy respect for education.

This aforementioned foundation gave rise to me developing my success plan. Upon reflection now, I started to formulate my success plan while I was in high school. It wasn’t something that I came home one day and started writing as it was more psychological than anything else. I had an attitude of success. There was this belief that started early in high school that I could achieve good grades. In fact, I made the honor roll during my ninth grade year. Now, I didn’t know what marks you had to get to be on the honor roll, I just knew I wanted to make really good grades. As ninth grade students, we were just happy to be in the building. I often tell ninth grade students today that the best thing about being in the ninth grade is that you get to the 10th grade.

It is my strong contention today that every student needs a success plan. Some would say that you need to write out your plan and keep it in a safe place. I don’t know that you necessarily need to write it down but you must have a plan.

Students at all levels today live in a challenging world yet the opportunities for greatness are endless. If students have a plan then they will be much like a ship that has charted out a course to a destination. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that students should consider for their plan.

First, you must surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. These people can be your parents, relatives and community support members. Students really do need people out there who believe in them. They will give students “hope” and a “can do attitude.” These two attributes might be the most important. As students grow, they must become more hopeful and have good attitudes. Young people must understand that the world doesn’t owe them anything so approaching life with a good attitude will take them a long way.

Choosing your friends wisely should also be a part of your success plan. Being around other students who are without goals and are aimless will not help you. I am really fortunate to have chosen friends with similar goals. Not all of my friends wanted to go to college but all of my friends wanted to be successful. They all took different paths to success as some decided to blaze a trail instead of to follow a path.

I often muse now about how I was able to be around so many good friends. I am not sure about the answer but I can tell you that I am a better person because of them. I advise students to look out for negative peer pressure as developing bad relationships is unhealthy for you. Doing something that is wrong just to be with the “in crowd” will hurt your future. Having self-respect will get you the respect of others.

Back in the day when we were in high school and it continued in college we carried ourselves in a certain way. People knew what to expect from us. I guess we had that old school swag! As a student today that self-respect will show folks that you have high ideals and lofty goals. Having self-respect doesn’t mean being smart, it means that you adhere to a certain set of standards.

Be respectful of school rules and property. As a college vice president, I had the opportunity to meet with some students who had broken some rules. Sometimes youthful transgressions get in the way of sound decision making. Most are contrite after understanding the error of their ways. If you have a healthy respect for rules and regulations, you can stay out of confusion. For example, student handbooks and codes of conduct are not meant to intimidate students but they are meant to serve as a guide and a resource on what acceptable behavior is.

You don’t have to be the life of the party but it will help to have a pleasant demeanor. Frowns and moans will get someone else the interview. While every day may not be a great day always try to give off a positive vibe. A happy look will be more inviting to teachers and prospective friends.

Let your success plan be like the American Express card, “don’t leave home without it.”