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 :)

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