Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012 to all of you! :)

Happy New Year!

I wanted to wish all of you a wonderful upcoming year.  It is hard for me to believe that I started this blog a year ago - I wanted to thank all of you for allowing me to be a part of your life this year. 

I also want to thank all of you for sharing your wonderful stories along your journey. I look forward to hearing more of your success stories in the upcoming year - keep up all of the great work you do every day in your lives :)


Isa Adney
Community College Success

Friday, December 16, 2011

Recommended winter break reading list (and a free book)

Congratulations on being officially DONE with your Fall 2011 semester. You should be very proud, relieved, and excited.

A couple of students have asked me to share some of my favorite and recommended fiction and non-fiction books as they are looking for some good reads this winter break. To those students I have to are AWESOME. Because reading is one of the best things you can do with your free time. Everything I've learned has come from books (e.g. I didn't know anything about publishing and now I'll have a book out in March - and I learned how to do it by guessed it....books on how to publish your book).

And fiction books can take you away and stimulate your imagination like nothing else can. Some people think they aren't readers...but that just means you haven't found the books that interest you yet. I love to read but that doesn't mean I love to read anything. I love to read what I love to read. Keep exploring and find your favorite type of books. You will grow, expand your mind, improve your writing skills immensely, and have a lot of fun.

Here are my top fiction and non-fiction picks right now - and at the bottom you'll find my Facebook friends' favorite books, as well as a chance to get an advanced preview of my Community College Success book for free!

My Favorite Fiction Books I Read in 2011
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella is the first book in a 6-book series (Mini Shopaholic just came out this year which I read). We all need a little book brain candy and this is my favorite. These are the funniest books I've ever read. Kinsella sets up comically genius I-Love-Lucy-type scenarios and brilliantly takes readers inside the twisted, consumeristic, and...well..shopaholic mind of character Becky Bloomwood. If you have ever bought something that you didn't need you will fall in love Becky Bloomwood and laugh through the entire series. 

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst is an intriguing murder mystery. The mother of rockstar Milo cannot believe he would kill his girlfriend - but that is what he is accused of. The writing and styling of this book is epic. I stayed up till 2am to finish it.

Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos takes you inside the lives of a lovable coffee shop owner whose life is turned upside down when she finds herself caring for an abandoned child. The book is full of surprises and twists but what I love most is that you can tell the author has a Ph.D in poetry. I would read  some of her phrases 3-4 times just to soak up all the beauty.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett has been on the bestseller list for a while and belongs there! I passed this book up for a while and then finally picked it up and it quickly earned a spot on my favorite-books-of-all-time list. And if you can, read the book before you watch the movie. Trust me. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the series I am planning to read this winter break. It's the latest craze and the movie will be coming out soon. While some like to stay away from the mainstream (and that's okay) I love to learn what fascinates the masses. I think you can learn a lot by reading and watching what seems to grab hold of people's attention. And, as stated earlier, I love to read the book before the movie.

My Favorite Non Fiction I Read in 2011:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is one of my favorite books of all time and it has to be shared even though I read it a few years ago. It's a non-fiction book that as you read, you can't believe it all really happened. That's all I can really say. This book is wonderful and it is probably the book I recommend the most in this entire list.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey is a classic for a reason. This is a perfect book to read before you make real new years resolutions. I read it last year just before I made mine (which were to start a blog and publish a book). This book will pump you up and give you the tools to make things happen in your life.

How to Win At College & How to Become a Straight A Student by Cal Newport I mention in a previous post because I just think Cal Newport's books are the greatest and they inspired mine. Pick up one of these and read it just a few days before you go back to class. They will pump you up and give you the tools you need to ace your next semester and have a lot of fun.

Outliers (or really anything by Malcolm Gladwell) is worth your time. He's been on the NY Times bestseller list forever and for good reason. He is fascinating and will help you look at the world in completely new ways. Reading Malcolm Gladwell will simply make you smarter and give you interesting things to bring up in conversations.

How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams is my favorite biography. If like me you want to hold on to your child-like spirit forever and value people who dream big and keep their imagination alive you will love this. But really what you should do is read any biography of anyone whom you admire. You will learn more from their life than you can imagine.

Community College Success by Isa Adney is going to be an awesome book coming out this Spring 2012 ;) And I'm looking for one lucky community college student who loves to read, has great writing/english skills,  and can read fast. I need someone who can read my 105 page pdf manuscript by December 28 to share feedback and possibly write an endorsement. I want this book to be 100% community-college-student-approved :)

 In exchange you'll get to preview the book and all it's life-changing tips on connecting with peers, professors, and professionals in order to figure out what you want to do with your life and create the life of your dreams for free. You'll also get a free signed copy when the book comes out. To apply e-mail me right now at with 2-5 sentences about you, why you love to read, why you want to read my book now, and why you think Community College Success can help you in your life. The reader will also be able to put on his/her resume that he/she served as an editor for a published book! :) 

And finally - since everyone's book taste's are different I also wanted to share with you what my wonderful Facebook friends recommended. The one that was on the list the most was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

  • Keith McAbee The Book Thief.
    Wednesday at 4:31pm ·  ·  2

  • Meijun Michael Cai Looking For Alaska...i think lol
    Wednesday at 4:36pm · 

  • Laury Leiva Sagastume mountains beyond mountains
    Wednesday at 4:37pm · 

  • Greg Klimowicz Shift by Peter Arnell
    Wednesday at 4:38pm · 

  • Ashley Flatt Perks of Being a Wallflower.
    Wednesday at 4:41pm ·  ·  3

  • Rochelle Hirt hunger games
    Wednesday at 5:04pm ·  ·  3

  • Xandra D. Green The Alchemist. Best book ever.
    Wednesday at 5:22pm ·  ·  1

  • Sara Ramirez Rosario For some reason I can't like any of the posts, but the book thief and the alchemist for sure!
    Wednesday at 5:42pm ·  ·  1

  • Carl Slifer Ptk Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Hemmingway, Huxley.... Anything by any of those.
    Wednesday at 5:46pm · 

  • Kari Conley Outliers
    Wednesday at 5:59pm ·  ·  2

  • Rafael Angel Marrero Power Ambition Glory - Steve Forbes & John Prevas
    Wednesday at 6:00pm · 

  • Megan Spano The Buddha in the Attack
    Wednesday at 6:17pm · 

  • Ashley Flatt I'd also recommend the Uglies series. :-)
    Wednesday at 6:29pm · 

  • A.j. Lauer I'll go for Alchemist, also Ishmael.
    21 hours ago · 

  • Krista Santos Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller or Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain =D
    19 hours ago · 

  • Manuel Antonio Hernandez The Mastery of Love, by Don Miguel Ruiz. I think this should be a required read for every man, woman, and child, lol.
    18 hours ago · 

Enjoy reading and enjoy your winter break! =)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Would you like to be in a book?

This week is your chance to have your success story and advice in my book Community College Success that will be released this March 2012 and has already been endorsed by bestselling authors like Brian Tracy, Cal Newport, Alexandra Levit, and Dan Pink!

"Isa Adney's book should be required reading for any student thinking about community college."-- Cal Newport, author of How to Become a Straight-A Student

"Community College Success proves it's not where you start but how you finish. If you want to finish college with great success you must read this book" - Pat Williams, author of Read Your Life: 11 Ways to Better Yourself Through Books

“This practical book is loaded with proven tools and techniques to help you make the connections that can turbo charge your career.” -- Brian Tracy, author of Earn What You're Really Worth

I'll be compiling all of the student testimonials in the survey below together into the final manuscript this week. If you haven't yet please share your story. It doesn't take long and you could inspire more people than you know with what you've uniquely been through, learned, and achieved. I know there is a lot other students could learn from both your struggles and your successes. Please don't keep them all to yourself :) 

Thank you so much!!

Share your story here --> (note you do not have to answer all the questions...only the ones that where you feel you have something to say)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My speaking video is here!!!! =)

Thank you so much to Ephraim McCormick at Elmwood Productions for doing this for me for the cost of dinner!!! And most of all thank you to all the incredible students in this video who make all of this worthwhile. I love you guys!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Video - stories of real college students

Check out this incredible USA TODAY article and video that shares the current realities of higher education. Almost half of all college students (12 million) are attending community colleges and 3/4 of them are having what looks more like a non-traditional experience. Can you relate to this?


Monday, December 5, 2011

How do you rate on the “Are you Really Trying” Quiz?

Answer Yes or No to the following questions:

1. Do you always prepare 2 or more drafts of a paper/assignment before you turn it in?
2. Do you always come to class after completing all readings and assignments?
3. Do you always use peer or other tutoring services?
4. Do you use the library and/or computer labs?
5. Do you read at least 2 unassigned books for personal enjoyment or academic enrichment during the semester?
6. Do you spend 8+ hours outside of class studying, reading, writing, or other activities related to your College major/program per week?

If you answered Yes to 6/6 of the questions above then congratulations you rate exceptionally high on putting forth your best effort towards your college education. If you answered any less than 6/6 with the answer Yes do not worry – you are not alone.

Every year a survey is given to community college students around the country called the CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) and one of its measures is student effort. For the most part – student effort is not where it should be and it seems many students are self-reporting that they are not putting forth as much effort as they know they should for their education.

First of all - I want to hear from you. Comment on this blog or our Facebook and tell me why you think many students are not putting forth the effort they know they should.

Where do you stand on this continuum? The quiz above is a modified version of the questions asked in CCSSE. My quiz is below; don’t think, just answer with your gut.

1. Are you giving your all - your best self - to your college education?

Deep down  - you know the answer. If the answer is a resounding Yes then AWESOME. Keep it up and do your best to motivate those around you. And never tire of giving your best and striving for excellence. There will be many moments when you wonder if it’s really worth it. It is – trust me.

If you have that inkling feeling that you know there is more you could be doing to give your all to your college education then start by asking for help. Go to the tutoring center. Mentor with someone over the winter break. Do a job shadow. Read a book in your program or a book about college success. Read a biography of someone you admire. Ask for my help at Most of all – strive for excellence in everything you do every single day.

Because we have an epidemic in our culture where the hard-core hunger for education and striving for excellence is waning. Why? I don’t exactly know and I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. However, it is pretty apparent that the average student could be trying harder – and is admitting that he/she isn’t. Why? What do you think?

It is paramount that you give your best self during this crucial time in your life and to remember that every class counts. Every test counts. Ever hour you spend studying counts. You must make the most of it. Because 4 years flies by - and unemployment drags on. 

Are you really doing whatever it takes? Could you be doing more?

My speaking website is called Rise Above Average because too many students are getting caught in the lie of mediocrity. The lie that just going to class and getting by will be enough to have a life of financial stability and success.  The comfort with a mediocrity that kills motivation, kills community growth, kills economic development, and kills individual joy.

Do not be afraid to be great at something. Do not be afraid to pursue excellence with every fiber of your being. The risk? Failure. The reward? Success. You cannot have one without the other.

Pursuing excellence is one of the greatest feelings. That moment when you know you’ve given it everything you’ve got and can be so incredibly proud no matter what the outcome. The worst feeling? When you know you’ve slacked off and know you could have done more, could have done better, could have been more, could have given it your all.

Half-trying at your life is a sure-fire way to end up bored, stressed, and struggling.

Want life to be more exciting? More successful? Try as hard as you possibly can. Work hard. And not the kind of hard work that wears you down and stresses you out. I’m talking about the kind of hard work that gives you energy because you’re channeling your best efforts into something you care about deeply.

And finally, while history has proven that generationally kids will do better economically than their parents – speculation today says that is no longer the case. We live in a competitive world and if you want to improve your family economically and develop for yourself a financially stable and exciting life you will have to work really really hard.

College is the new high school diploma. Which doesn’t mean it is less valuable. It means that coasting through just won’t work. It means you have to do more. You have to stand out. And you have to remember that any reason you have for not giving it your all is always and will always be an excuse. 

So it's time to make a decision to put forth your best effort. Start right now by completing these sentences:

1. I always give my all when I...........
2. When I give me all I feel.........
3. I'm not giving my all in............
4. If I continue to not give my all what will happen is........
5. In order to increase my effort I need to start...........

Many colleges are scratching their heads wondering how to increase student effort. Wondering how to get students to really care about learning, working hard, and developing that hunger for education.

I don’t have all the answers. But sadly I do think overall students could be trying harder. While many community college students have a lot on their plate – there is a huge difference between those that complain and those who work even harder. I can only say this because most of the students I meet and the ones who read this blog are the ones who have been through so much and yet still give everything they’ve got to improving their lives and attaining their education.

There are students who are hungry for education and who give everything they have and they are the ones who inspire me daily. Without them – without you – I would wonder too often if this is all really worth it; if students really care.

Deep down I have to believe that you do.

But I know there are also many who don’t. But I don’t think they don’t care because they don’t care. I think they don’t know how to care because they have no motivation. They don’t understand how college will affect the rest of their lives. They haven't yet had that feeling of striving towards something they are about. They haven’t yet discovered their personal purpose for their education and thus math homework is just math homework – not an opportunity to move forward towards a greater career and purpose.

We are in a time where we must get these students to rise above average, discover their purpose for college, and understand the value of trying hard. These students must understand what a gift education is and they must make the most of that gift for themselves.


Pursue excellence and just see what extraordinary things will begin to happen in your life and your community.

I want those extraordinary things for every community college student. For every community. 

Do not get comfortable with average.

You are more than average.

Below is one of my favorite videos that highlights the kind of attitude it takes to strive. To win. Watching it isn't as important as listening. It's meant for athletes but applies to everything. Because all it takes is a strong unwavering desire to do whatever it takes. It is the ones who push through exhausting who will win. 

**Good luck on all of your exams! This will be my last post until January as I know you will all be having fun and relaxing during your winter break – and I’m going to be putting the finishing touches on my book. You may see a few random bonus posts here and there if something really exciting happens that I want to share. Otherwise I will see you in 2012!! Stay in touch on Facebook and feel free to contact me if you'd like me to speak at your college next semester - dates are filling up fast :)