I recently had the privilege of creating three audio courses about college success for How To Learn. One course deals with being sure you identify the right college for you and then being sure that you can find the funds to graduate with minimal debt. The second is about your choice of major and your career path. The third has to do with the connections you make in college and how important they will be—making or breaking—your future vision. As I thought about these courses I realized that they all are really about finding out about yourself and what you value, love, fear, and dream of. They are about your heart and your future.
The students I have known over the years who have been most successful in life have followed their hearts. Now sometimes what their hearts say changes as they are exposed to more options, learn more about themselves, and overcome fears, but at the end they go with the thing that seems –not always rationally to others—to be right for them. The choice of college, while perhaps framed by what will be the best economic choice once the homework is done, should be based on what feels right. Is the scale a good one for you—small or large. Do you see students on campus that you think you might like to know and do they seem happy. Are there courses that seem exciting and most important does the school fit how you learn. Are you an avid bookworm or a hands on tinkering kind of learner? Are you returning to school with a particular goal in mind or are you still figuring it out? Have you struggled before but want to show what you can do? Are you outgoing or shy? These are heart questions. They speak to who you are and how you learn best and what your goals are. This is the focus of the first online course: The Fit and the Finance.
The next issue is what to study when you get to college. Students mostly think they have to take a very practical sounding major that will lead to a particular career that they will have for the rest of their lives. However, life and work do not function that way. Most people have more than one job or career over a life time. It is about finding what subjects will draw you in and engage you while building skills that you can use in a wide array of fields and jobs. These will be writing, research, problem-solving, presentation, interpersonal, reading skills. Any major will deliver them but again it is about your heart. What subject do you find to be easy or fun? When doing assignments is there one subject you prefer doing over others? When I was helping students apply for scholarships I could tell who would be successful when their eyes lit up as they talked about what they were studying. They had made the right heart fit and it was leading to success. You tend to do better in courses that are a heart fit. Learn more about majors and success in this course:
Finally, successful people always have wide networks. Your networks are not strangers. They are people you like and who like you. They can include everyone from classmates and roommates to faculty and deans. Some of my best friends are students whom I either taught or advised 10, 15, 25 years ago. I have also written grad school recommendations for them 10, 15, 25 years after I had met them. Most jobs come from who you know. It can be your roommate’s dad who knows someone or it can be—and often is an alumnus or someone who comes to speak on your campus. You feel a connection to that person because of how they are, what they do and how comfortable they make you feel—comfortable enough to allow you to reach out for guidance. That comes from the heart – though your strategy to approach them will come from your head. This course describes how this all works for you.
Using your head is always a good idea but listening to your heart is really important. You cannot always follow what others say you should do all the time but learn to listen to what feeds your heart and soul and connects you to your own pathway to success.
Marcia Y. Cantarella, PhD is the author of I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide. She can be reached at I Can Finish College where you can find more blogs as well as coaching services and other resources. She also has audio courses which you can find here.