Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Showing Your Grit

Okay, so here it is, thirteen school days to the end of the semester.  Lots to do: papers to write, projects to finish, tests to prepare for, loose ends galore to tie up.  If college were a football game, this would be the two-minute warning, with the season on the line.

Time to show your grit.

Even if you've been on top of your classes from day one, the final weeks of the semester can be tough.  You may have done all the right things--kept up with required reading, reviewed notes, completed assignments, really given college your best shot--but the end of the term can still be busy and stressful.  It's a fact of college life.

Here's another fact: The most successful students not only put time and work into their classes throughout the semester but also push themselves at crunch time.  I'm not talking about pulling all nighters, staging marathon study sessions, medicating yourself to stay awake an extra two hours, or doing anything equally dumb.  But I am talking about pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to do your best, especially at those moments (like now) when your performance matters.

I know students who just give up when school gets really busy. They miss classes at the end of the semester, let studying slide, and don't finish papers because they don't want to work any harder than usual.  "I never like to exert myself," a student told me last spring.  "If things get too intense, I just shut down." 

This attitude baffles me, especially given the evidence that suggests that the people who do best--in school, on a job, in a game, or anywhere else in life--are usually the ones willing to stay focused and push themselves at the end.  They're the ones who have the grit to keep going, despite being tired.  They may not always be at their best, but they hang in there nonetheless.

And so should you.  As the semester winds down, remember the importance of focus and tenacity. These qualities alone won't get you straight A's, but they might make the difference between knowing that you gave school your best effort and realizing that your semester could have turned out better, if only you'd shown a bit more grit.

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