Daniel Wong describes the five key steps you need to take in order to become a happy, fulfilled, and successful student in his new book The Happy Student.
In the following book excerpt, read the forward written by Sue Wasiolek, Ed.D. Co-author, Getting the Best Out of College:
Having been involved in higher education for over thirty years, I’ve had the good fortune of working with bright, talented, ambitious, and success-oriented students. That being said, I often find myself wondering why some of these stuents choose to attend college. What motivates them? What do they hope to accomplish? Are they applying to college only because it appears to be the “think to do”? Are they really interested in learning, or are they just trying to get a degree? Maybe they would be better off taking a gap year or two before starting college, so that they would gain the maturity and perspective necessary to have a meaningful college experience.
Frankly, there should only be one reason to pursue a college degree: to become a better-educated person. To become better-educated doesn’t simply mean that you’ve accumulated new information; instead, it means that you’ve learned to apply new information for the betterment of society, to look at situations with an open mind, to solve problems by synthesizing data from various sources, to be able to work in a team, and to communicate ideas verbally and in writing. It took me a number of years to realize this, however, as I initially thought that education was just about memorizing facts and then regurgitating them. Had I embraced this more comprehensive approach to learning as an undergraduate student, I would definitely have been a happier and more fulfilled student, because I would have seen the value in the hours I spent studying. In addition, I would have taken a more active role in connecting with my peers and with faculty members as I pursued my intellectual passions.
So when I learned that Daniel Wong was writing the Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success, I became intrigued and encouraged- intrigued because I wondered how Daniel would define and approach happiness, success, and fulfillment; encouraged because I truly hoped that he would focus on the process of learning and not just the outcome.
I was not disappointed.
This book is a wonderful resource for any high school or college student who wonders if there’s more to education than getting good grades. Daniel shows you, from a student’s perspective, that there is- even more than you could imagine.
As Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Duke, I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Daniel toward the end of his undergraduate career. By the time we met, Daniel had evolved into the active, engaged, and engaging student that college administrators hope all students will become. Little did I know that Daniel had not always been a happy student, in spite of his obvious and overwhelming academic success. How refreshing it is for Daniel to identify in The Happy Student that a “holistic attitude is vital if you want to become a happy student, and happiness must be investigated in the context of a balanced approach toward education and life.” I couldn’t agree with him more, and I applaud his courage in being willing and able to articulate this important sentiment. Not only does Daniel explain why it’s essential to have this attitude; it’s also evident that he lives out this attitude on a daily basis. This makes The Happy Student all the more encouraging and inspiring.
Today, many students (and their parents) worry too much about what majors and minors will lead to a lucrative career. Unfortunately, they fail to realize that such an approach is unlikely to lead to happiness and fulfillment. Daniel has achieved remarkable success as a student. He was a top performer from elementary school all through college. At Duke, he majored in mechanical engineering and economics, and graduated summa cum laude. But earning a “marketable” degree and attaining great academic success, on their own, did not make Daniel happy. For many years of his formal education, he was just going through the motions. It was only after high school that Daniel found the true purpose of education and uncovered the key principles to becoming a happy and motivated student.
We’re so fortunate that Daniel has shared his experiences and sage advice in this book, so that students can avoid making the same mistakes he made.
Education happens both inside and outside the classroom. As an experienced educator, I guarantee that you’ll have to take risks if you want to maximize your education. I completely agree with Daniel’s suggestions that you take risks, such as enrolling in classes and getting involved in extracurricular activities that are outside your comfort zone.
Education is a lifelong journey, one that definitely doesn’t end when you receive your high school diploma or college degree. If you take what Daniel has to say to hear, you’ll discover that education is an adventure that’s full of challenges and excitement. Listen to his advice- your happiness as a student and lifelong learner depends on it.
Daniel Wong graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. He lived in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Singapore before heading to Durham, North Carolina for college on a full academic scholarship. Before college, Daniel spent two years in the Singapore military and currently holds the rank of First Lieutenant.
Daniel is passionate about education and has given numerous talks to students about topics such as goal-setting, time management, college life skills, and developing a personal vision for your life. He also gave a TEDx talk at Duke University entitled Realistic Idealism: Seeing People as People. He writes regularly about topics related to education and personal development at www.daniel-wong.com.