Being spontaneous in social situations – going with the flow, living in the moment, carpe diem – can make life richer and more fun. But in an age of texting, tweeting, and other forms of almost instantaneous and continuous communication, it can be difficult to step back, look at the big picture, and see where you really want to go. Sometimes you have to get out of the moment and take a longer view. Your college education is a big investment of money, intellectual energy, emotional energy, and all kinds of personal effort. Isn’t it worth taking time to identify what you want to gain from your education and putting together a plan to achieve your goals? Why sure it is! Here are six parts of the planning process that should be in your toolkit for college success.
Identify and Explore Your Options: College presents a myriad of opportunities – study abroad, an internship, social organizations, recreational programs, community service, leadership, etc. – and decisions that require weighing pros and cons. Be a student of your environment. Take time to find out what exists at TU that interests and could benefit you. Not only do your courses require study but how to integrate other parts of your education into your life requires time and effort to understand.
Decide What You Want to Pursue: Time is a finite resource and the time that you will spend in completing your undergraduate degree is likely to be a small portion of your life. So you have a lot of choices, but what are the things that will make the most difference and create the most good in your life. Making a good decision is hard to do until you know what you value. Take the time to consider this carefully.
Create a Plan for Implementing Your Decision(s): So you think you know what you want to do, but how do you get there? As the saying goes, “nobody plans to fail, but many people fail to plan”. Creating a plan that details what you want to do or accomplish in your college education and identifies the steps you will take to reach your goals and the people who will help you along the way is a key part of making your dreams become reality.
Monitor Your Progress Toward the Completion of Your Plan: Periodically take some time to assess your progress toward fulfilling your plan. For example, if you plan to study abroad, make a checklist of the things that you need to do to make that happen and occasionally see how you are doing. Are you on track or do you need some help to get back on track. Every student should be working on his/her plan to complete a degree at Towson. And every student has a great tool available to help her/him monitor their progress. Called the Academic Requirements Report (ARR) and available in your online Student Center, this is the gold standard for keeping track of what you have completed and what you have left to do. Learn how to use the ARR by viewing the tutorial here.
Revise Your Plan: Even the most carefully researched and best laid of plans may need to be tweaked or modified. Having to revise your plan is not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, being able to honestly assess how you are doing with reaching your goals and then to revise your plan to address new conditions in your life or developing or changing interests is a sign of resourcefulness and adaptability, important life skills.
Celebrate Your Successes: Pay attention to the small steps that you take and the accomplishments that you complete along the way to your larger or longer term goals. Take time to share and celebrate your successes with family, friends, teachers, advisors, and others who are important to you.
As you begin a new academic year, whether it is your first or your fifth at Towson or somewhere in between, commit yourself to planning and working toward success!
And remember the Tiger Pledge
Take responsibility for myself and the choices I make.
Imagine success and work hard every day to achieve my academic goals.
Give my best in showing respect for myself and others.
Engage in my community to make a difference in the lives of others.
Remember to be active in building a welcoming community.
Academic Advising Center