The first thing on my mind when I arrived at Columbia University as a master’s student at the age of twenty-two was money. Not the money I imagined making because I was going to graduate from an Ivy League university; the money I needed to pay for school and for living in New York City’s Manhattan. I applied for financial aid, which included a package of loans and the university’s work-study program. A week after I arrived on campus, I received an email from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC, at the time, now known as MESAAS for Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies). They received my information from the financial aid office and interviewed me for a research assistant position. They told me I would be working for a newly hired professor who was coming down from McGill University in Canada. This professor would be taking on something called an “endowed title” in the department, meaning he was highly respected even among Columbia’s other outstanding professors. Honestly, I had never heard of McGill, even though it is one of Canada’s most prestigious universities. And, admittedly, I had never heard of the professor for whom I was going to be working, even though he is one of the most famous in the field of Islamic law studies: Dr. Wael Hallaq.
The day Dr. Hallaq arrived on campus, I went to greet him in his office. My task for the day was to help him get set up on campus by unpacking his many boxes of books and arranging his bookshelves. I went to his office, and I found him standing inside. He had silver hair, strong black eyebrows, and a wonderfully warm smile. He came forward to shake my hand and introduce himself, but he had a look of concern on his face. He politely asked me: “Do you understand Arabic?” I earnestly looked at him and shook my head “no.” He smirked and asked me a follow-up question: “Do you have any idea who I am?” Again, but this time with a nervous laugh, I honestly said “no.” His smile grew, and as we shook hands, he concluded that our pairing as professor and research assistant would “be interesting.”
In order to complete my first assignment of arranging his bookshelves, I needed to be familiar with Eastern Arabic numerals at minimum; most of his other research assistants in the past had been fluent in reading as well as speaking Arabic. I couldn’t organize his periodicals and his multi-volume sets unless I knew which order they were supposed to go in, and Eastern Arabic (٨ ,٧ ,٦ ,٥ ,٤ ,٣ ,٢ ,١ ,٠ and ٩) is not the same as Western Arabic (the 0-9 system with which English users are familiar). To save myself from losing my job on the first day, I took out my newly acquired “smartphone” (they had just recently been invented) and pulled up a website on Eastern Arabic numerals. I showed it to the professor and assured him that I would learn as I organize. I found out weeks later that this move gave him all the confidence he needed in me; I was willing to learn, and that’s the most important quality you can have as a research assistant. Our relationship grew as I helped him work on his book The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament (Columbia UP, 2012), and he even thanked me as one of his “gifted and efficient research assistants” in the book’s preface. It might have been much easier on that first day to excuse myself, say I wasn’t the right person for the job, and ask the university for something better suited to my skills. However, I am so glad I challenged myself because I gained not only money and new skills but also a mentor along the way.
The general problem solving explanation and tips below are remixed from the open textbook College Success, pp. 64-65:
Even when you have clear goals, are motivated, and are focused, problems sometimes happen. First, you have to accept that they will happen; you can’t avoid every problem. The difference between students who succeed by solving the problem and learning from it and those who get frustrated and give up is partly attitude and partly experience.
Many different kinds of setbacks may happen while you’re in college (and in your life generally). Here are just a few examples:
•A financial crisis
•An illness or injury
•A crisis involving your family or loved ones
•Stress related to frequently feeling like you don’t have enough time
•Stress related to relationship problems
Many other kinds of problems can be prevented or made less likely to occur. You can take steps to stay healthy. You can take control of your finances. You can learn how to build successful relationships to get along better with your instructors, classmates, and romantic partners. You can learn time management techniques to make sure you use your time effectively. However, some things happen that you cannot prevent, such as some illnesses or losing your job because of an economic recession or crises involving family members. Other problems, such as a social or relationship issue or an academic problem in a certain class, may be more complex and not easily prevented. What then?
First, work to resolve the immediate problem:
1.Stay motivated and focused. Don’t let frustration or anxiety make the problem worse. Reassure yourself that the problem probably has a solution, and go into the problem-solving procedure confident and relaxed.
2.Analyze the problem and consider all possible solutions, not just the ones with which you are comfortable. For example, a financial problem doesn’t automatically mean you have to drop out of school. You could take out student loans, cut back on living expenses, or take some time off school in order to save money and come back. You might not like any of these ideas, but they are possible solutions and can help you avoid dropping out entirely. Another example is failing a midterm exam. Failing a test doesn’t always mean you will automatically fail the course. Instead, you can determine what went wrong, work with your instructor to improve your study plan, and use better strategies for the next exam. You might not like doing any of these things, but it’s better than simply giving up.
3.Get help when you need it. None of us gets through life alone. It is not a sign of weakness to see your academic advisor, college counselor, the writing center staff, or your professor when you have questions or problems. In fact, I think it is a clear sign of maturity and responsibility.
4.After you’ve developed a plan to resolve the problem, follow through. If solving the problem will take a while, track your progress in smaller steps so that you can see yourself actually succeeding.
After you’ve solved the problem, be sure to avoid it in the future:
1.You’ve crossed this bridge before. When you come to it again in the future, shouldn’t you know the best way across?
2.Be honest with yourself. Were you the one who caused the problem? Did you contribute to it? Sometimes, the reasons are clear: you partied the night before the exam, you either became intoxicated or didn’t sleep enough, and, as a result, you couldn’t think clearly during the exam. Other times, you might not feel like it was your fault, but you contributed somehow. For example, if you are constantly catching colds or other illnesses that keep you from doing your best, consider your lifestyle. Do you wash your hands frequently enough? Are you dressed warmly enough in the winter? Are you sharing food and beverages with friends or exchanging germs in other ways? It’s easy to say “It’s not my fault; I was sick!,” and, of course, that’s true sometimes. But not always. If you don’t honestly explore the factors that led to the problem, it’s likely to happen again.
3.Take responsibility for your life and your role in what happens to you. Some people have negative attitudes and are always blaming others, fate, or “the system” for their problems. Of course, at times these outside forces do seem to be the biggest cause of our problems. However, unless you want to keep having problems, you need to figure out how to solve the issues that you’re dealing with. No one will solve them for you.
4.Taking responsibility does not mean hating yourself. Failing at something does not make you a failure. We all fail at something, sometimes. And, honestly, I think the more you fail, the more you grow. Some people never fail at anything because they never take any risks with the option to fail. Fail and learn from it and grow. Adjust your attitude so that you’re ready to try again. Feel happy knowing that you won’t repeat mistakes you’ve made in the past.
5.Make a plan. Make effective use of your time. Change toxic behaviors. If you know that watching one YouTube video or one episode of a Netflix series can easily lead to you binge watching five more, avoid that initial toxic behavior. If you know that changing one part of your schedule will ultimately affect the rest of your daily schedule, do your best to stick to your regular schedule. Do whatever you can to make sure you use your time effectively and according to what you want to get done.
One of the most common struggles college students face involves money. It can be difficult to find scholarships, pay tuition each semester, afford books and lab fees, find part-time jobs, and budget your finances through the semester. It is important that students know how to access financial aid.
Financial aid includes all the ways in which you get help with money to attend and pay for your university life. Financial aid might include help from your family, scholarships, grants, loans, or paid employment such as work-study programs. You can receive scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities from your high school, a foundation, a corporation, or federal and state agencies such as the United States Department of Education. The most important difference in these terms is that scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back, while loans must be paid back. Some scholarships and grants are only available for people from specific countries, age ranges, races, ethnicities, religions, and so on. International students are typically not allowed to receive financial aid from the host country’s government.
First, you should contact your school’s financial aid office to learn about scholarships or grants available directly from your school. If you are awarded one of these, it is simply free money; you don’t pay back scholarships or grants. After this, you could try the following to search for scholarships and grants:
•Fill out the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) every year that you’re in school. This application will help you qualify for grants such as the Pell Grant. This grant is free money that you will not need to pay back. Your school might also use your FAFSA to qualify you for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), which is a grant you will not need to pay back.
•Consider your eligibility for aid benefits from the federal government through programs such as AmeriCorps, the Educational and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Care Youth, the Indian Health Service’s National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, the National Institutes of Health’s Division of Loan Repayment, or the National Health Service Corp’s loan repayment program.
•If you have a parent or guardian who died in military service in Iraq or Afghanistan, you might qualify for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
•If you plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income area, you might qualify for a TEACH Grant. While this grant is free money you do not need to pay back, it comes with a service obligation and other requirements. Please read into this carefully if you are interested in applying for it.
•Visit the CareerOneStop website, which is a searchable website of more than 8,000 scholarships, fellowships, and grants sponsored by the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
•Consider creating a free profile on Fastweb, where you can search and apply for over 1.5 million different college scholarships. This website is not maintained by the United States government.
•Beyond scholarships and grants, you still might find yourself struggling with finances during your college years. The below questions about and solutions to financial struggles are remixed from the open textbook College Success, pp. 410-419:
Taking control of your personal finances begins with thinking about your goals and deciding what matters to you. Here are some things to think about:
•Is it important to you that you graduate from college without debt? Is it acceptable to you, or necessary, or impossible, to take out some student loans?
•What are your priorities for summer sessions and other “free time”? Would you rather work to earn money or take a nonpaying internship or volunteering position to gain experience in your field? How will you incorporate social activities and time with friends and family into your college experience?
•How important is it to take a full load of classes so that your college education does not take longer than necessary or so that you meet visa requirements?
•How important is it for you to live in a nice place, drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, or eat in nice restaurants? How important are these things in comparison with your immediate educational goals?
Some students will realize that they have to work while they go to school in order to afford daily life. However, you have a choice in the types of jobs for which you apply. The best student jobs help you engage more deeply in the college experience, while the wrong kind of job gets in the way of that. Here are some factors to consider when you look for a job:
•What kinds of people will you be interacting with?
•Will you be working close to or far from campus?
•Is the job flexible enough to meet a college student’s needs?
∘Can you change your work hours during final exam week or when a special project is due?
•What will you be able to say about your work on your future resume?
Another option for some students is to go into business for yourself. If you have energy, initiative, and some skill that is wanted by others, you can create your own work. For example, I built my own mobile DJ service while in college. I borrowed $500 from family members to purchase basic audio mixing equipment and speakers. I began DJing friends’ parties at my college for free to advertise my skills. As my popularity grew, I was able to start charging for my services. I was able to pay back my family members and continue to earn money to buy improved equipment. This expansion allowed me to DJ larger, more prestigious parties that paid higher fees. Overall, my DJ business helped me pay for my entire undergraduate career when combined with the public university grants I received. Consider these other ways you can make money:
•Tutor classmates in a subject you are good in.
•Sell your technical skills to help others, such as setting up computer software, teaching people to use Microsoft Office, or designing websites.
•Sell things you no longer need. Earn commission by helping others sell things they don’t need (this is especially good if you’re skilled at social media services).
•Provide services to faculty members and residents in the nearby community, such as lawn mowing, snow shoveling, housecleaning, babysitting, pet sitting, dog walking, and more.
∘Professors, instructors, and graduate students who travel frequently for conferencing and research often need pet sitters and dog walkers. Reach out to them for these opportunities!
Even if you work, you still might find that you just don’t have any money left at the end of the month. In this case, you might need to make adjustments in how you spend money on a daily basis. Remember, spending money does not define who you are. Follow some of these principles to spend less:
•Be aware of what you’re spending. Carry a small notebook or download a free budget planning app to document everything you spend for a month. You’ll see your habits, and you will see where you need to take control.
•Look for alternatives. Invest in a steel refillable bottle and seek out filtered drinking fountains instead of buying bottled water every day. Make coffee at home instead of going to a coffee shop every day. You can avoid many daily purchases by finding alternatives.
•Plan ahead to avoid impulse spending. Bring snacks in your bag to avoid buying things from expensive vending machines. Make a list before you go grocery shopping, and stick to only what’s on the list. Only bring a certain amount of money out with you when you’re eating and drinking with friends, and leave your credit card at home.
•Shop smart. Compare store prices, buy in bulk, and buy items when they are on sale.
Other tips for spending less include:
•Make your own lunches and snacks.
•Take advantage of your library’s digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions instead of purchasing your own. Remember, you paid tuition, so you paid for access to these publications already. Don’t pay twice!
•Cancel cable television and watch programs online for free. There is so much content available if you’re willing to put up with advertisements!
•Cancel your private health club membership and exercise on campus if your school has a gym or at home doing body weight exercises and simple calisthenics.
•Look for free fun instead of going to movie theaters and concerts. Most colleges have free events happening throughout the year.
•If you pay your own utility bills, conserve energy. Make sure you turn off lights in your apartment and unplug electronics you’re not currently using.
•Most importantly, don’t fail classes! Paying to retake courses is one of the quickest ways to get in financial trouble.
When I was an undergraduate student (2003–2009), there was a fast-growing online loan company called MyRichUncle (which is now out of business). In the 2006 update to its website, MyRichUncle described itself as a “national student loan company offering federal and private loans to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.” MyRichUncle promised to “slash rates” on federal student loans such as the Stafford Loan, PLUS Loans, and Grad-PLUS loans. It also advertised its own unique system for making sure than any student with academic potential could qualify for loans.
In 2006, MyRichUncle took out an advertisement in The New York Times claiming that many colleges and universities had “pay-to-play” deals with money lending companies, meaning that the companies had to pay the schools to advertise their services to students as “preferred lenders.” This led to attorney generals and others investigating the misconduct by universities. Investigators found corrupt lending practices happening at institutions such as Columbia University, Drexel University, Mercy College, Pace University, Seton Hall University, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech, and Wayne State University. The result of this investigation was the creation of many state laws about student lending accountability and new regulations created by the Department of Education. However, as any quick internet search on “predatory student loans United States” will reveal, the problem is not yet fixed.
As the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School (LSC) explains, student borrowers have the federal right to cancel their loans if their institutions are found to be corrupt and engaged in misconduct. However, the Department of Education is not necessarily trying to find these institutions and stop their deceitful practices. Instead of chasing after bad schools, the Department of Education seems more interested in forcing students to pay back these bad loans.
Visit the Federal Student Aid website and study it as carefully as possible. Here, you can find pages dedicated to types of financial aid, financial aid eligibility, FAFSA®, PLUS loans, promissory notes, loan repayments, loan forgiveness procedures and programs, and delinquency and defaulting. Do not sign up for loans without trying your best to understand all of their terms and conditions. The Federal Student Aid website has a “Glossary” page that briefly explains important key terms. Study and understand this, but, if you’re able to do so, go beyond this page and speak with a financial consultant to understand more fully the importance and legal definitions of these terms. You have to pay back your loans, even if you later claim that you didn’t understand what you were signing up for. Don’t get trapped in a situation that you can’t recover from. Please dedicate time and energy to understanding what loans will mean for you.
Another common struggle most students face is getting fully engaged in their university lives. If you’re a first-generation student, an international student, or a non-traditional student such as a commuter student (someone who lives off-campus), this struggle might feel particularly depressing. There are aspects of the university that are not welcoming to people like us in these categories. You will attend your classes and receive grades, but you might feel continuously left out or that you’re not truly immersed in your college life. Particular struggles might include making friends, participating in on-campus activities, and interacting with faculty and staff. However, as hard as things might be, you have to find ways to overcome these struggles.
The possible solutions to these struggles in the bulleted list below are remixed from the open textbook No Limits, pp. 61:
•Struggle: Making friends on campus.
∘Solution: Join a student organization.
∘Solution: Invite classmates to join you for a study session or a snack break.
•Struggle: Making time to participate in on-campus activities.
∘Solution: Start your day early. Arrive on campus early and get as much work done as possible in the morning hours. Then, you might have time for the social activities that often take place after classes finish.
∘Solution: If you can’t participate because you have an off-campus job, think about getting a job on campus. On-campus jobs will often be flexible with your hours if you explain that you want to attend a university function.
∘Solution: Plan your schedule with big gaps in between classes. Try to make these gaps when events that you’d like to attend normally happen on campus. For example, if your department often hosts guest lectures at 15:00, make sure you’re not taking class at the same time so that you can attend them. Don’t put all of your classes back to back.
•Struggle: Interacting with staff and faculty.
∘Solution: Meet with your professors in their office hours. Professors have very different personalities in front of the class and in their offices. If your professor seems intimidating in the classroom, you might find them to be much more friendly and approachable in a one-on-one setting.
∘Solution: Join a student organization that has an active faculty advisor. This will give you a chance to get to know a professor outside of a graded classroom environment.
∘Solution: Be on campus more. The more you see staff and faculty, the more normal they will become, and, therefore, less intimidating.
An important thing you should know about being a student at a United States college or university is that you will be busy. To be successful, for each hour of class you take in a week, you should spend between two to three (or possibly more) additional hours outside of class working on things related to your studies. Being a “full-time student” is typically defined as taking at least twelve hours of classes per week. When you add this up, you can see that you will be spending between thirty-six and forty-eight hours both in and out of the class working on your academic studies. This amount of studying is a struggle for most students, especially those who want to do exceptionally well but have something in their lives that also requires many hours of their time such as a job, family obligations, a long commute, and so on.
The time management tips in the bulleted list below are remixed from the open textbook No Limits, pp. 80:
•Use tools such as calendars (both physical and digital), to-do lists, sticky notes, planners, and learning management software (such as Blackboard and Canvas).
•Use the “wasted time” between classes to review notes, to read, to do homework, or to take care of personal affairs such as calling family members or doing any money-making business possible.
•Take short breaks instead of long ones. Work for thirty minutes and take a five minute break, or work for fifty minutes and take a ten minute break. Don’t try to work for four hours straight with no break; you probably won’t recover well after, and you’ll actually get less work done.
•Figure out which activities require the most focus and energy, and plan to do those things when you feel most energized, especially if you dislike those activities. If you delay doing the difficult activities that you dislike, you might give up on doing them at the end of your day when your energy runs out.
•Study in a place and an environment without distractions. This includes impersonal forces (people you don’t know, environmental noises) as well as personal forces (people you know, your cell phone). Figure out where you can study best; some people prefer the library, while others prefer their homes/rooms.
•Make sure you get enough sleep. Cut down on simple chatting with friends or mindless video watching, not sleep.
Another new situation that many college students deal with is living on their own or away from their homes for the first time. Some universities require that all first-year students live on campus in dormitories. Some universities will allow students to live on campus for only one year while others might allow it for two, three, or even all four years. Some universities have many dorm options while others only have one or two. Some universities will have special dorms designated for married students, graduate students, and for students who are part of “living-learning communities” in which you live with people from your same major of study. If you live on campus, you will probably have dormmates or roommates if your dorm is particularly big. In these situations, you might struggle to get along with your co-residents. Struggles in your dorm can severely impact your ability to complete your studies.
The tips for getting along with your roommate in the bulleted list below are remixed from the open textbook No Limits, pp. 57:
•Try to get to know each other.
•Don’t expect too much; you don’t have to be best friends.
•Ask, listen, and discuss. Filling out a “roommate’s agreement” early sets rules and boundaries for sharing personal items and space. For example, how late should friends be allowed over? How late should we allow the television to be on? How early is it okay to start making noise in the room?
•Be sensitive to each other’s moods. Everyone has good and bad days, so try to be understanding.
•When things go wrong, discuss them. If you can’t fix things between you, ask someone for help such as a resident assistant.
Another common challenge is simply not knowing whom to talk to on campus about the different kinds of questions you might have. There are so many bridges to cross, and you’re just not sure which one will take you to the destination you have in mind. The list of college offices and resources below is remixed from the open textbook College Success, pp. 37-38:
•Academic advising office: This office helps you choose courses and plan your program or degree. You should have a meeting with them at least once every semester.
•Counseling office: This office helps with personal problems, including health, stress management, interpersonal issues, and so on.
•Financial aid office: This office deals with students currently receiving financial aid and can help you figure out if you qualify for financial assistance or not.
•Food pantry: Many colleges and universities provide free food to students in need. Students can’t be successful if they don’t eat, drink, and live well. Your college or university might offer food staples, household items, and personal care supplies either at a low cost or for free to students with current IDs. Schenectady County Community College, for example, offers dairy, grain, fruits, vegetables, protein, bath tissue, paper towels, laundry detergent, trash bags, deodorant, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, shaving items, and other items to its students in need for free. Ask your college or university what supplies it offers its students in need. If it is not providing enough, consider forming a committee and creating a petition to ask the university to supply such items and services.
•Tutoring, writing, or skill centers: The title of this office changes depending on your specific college, but they are special places where students can go for additional help for their courses. A single center may help students with all academic skills, or your college may have separate centers for skills such as writing, math, and general studies.
•Computer labs: Many campuses have computer centers in which students can use both PC and Macintosh desktops as well as receive assistance with technical issues.
•Student health clinic: Your campus clinic will offer basic medical care and can make referrals to larger hospitals when needed. Most campus clinics can also help with issues such as diet and exercising concerns, birth control services, and preventative health care.
•Career center or placement office: This center offers a wide list of services for students and recent graduates. It can help you find an internship, find jobs to apply for, and learn more about specific companies. It can help you create and then review resumes and cover letters. It runs seminars on effective interviewing skills and on business etiquette. It often hosts company information sessions where a hiring manager or representative from a company visits your campus to discuss future opportunities. Career services at your institution might also put on a “Career Fair,” or a special day where students and recent graduates get to meet with many different employers in a central location such as your school’s student union room or courtyard. If your institution does not host its own career fair, it can probably tell you where the closest career fair is happening, perhaps in a large city near you. Once you have an interview planned, career services can also help you prepare by offering you a mock interview session. At some schools, career services might even have a “Career Closet” filled with clothing you can borrow that will be suitable for your interview and a printing service to make up free business cards with your name on them.
•Office for students with disabilities: This office may provide various resources to help students with temporary or permanent disabilities adapt to the college environment.
•Housing office: This office not only controls campus housing but often assists students with finding off-campus private accommodations.
•Diversity office: This office promotes cultural awareness on campus, runs special programs, and assists students from diverse backgrounds with adjusting to campus culture.
•Office of student affairs or student services: This office can help you find ways to participate in campus activities and in organized groups. Organized groups on campus include student organizations, fraternities and sororities, clubs relating to diversity and inclusion, clubs relating to civic engagement and leadership, clubs relating to service and volunteerism, and student activity groups.
•Athletic center: Most colleges have exercise equipment, pools, courts and tracks, and other resources open to all students. If your college doesn’t own its own facilities, then it might have deals with neighboring facilities so that students can use them. Athletic centers help students maintain their personal health, which then promotes academic success.
•Specialized offices for student populations: Your college might have individual offices for supporting students such as non-native English speakers, non-traditional students, international students, religious students, students with children (including a possible child care center), veteran students, students preparing for certain types of careers, and more.
•University ombuds: Oregon State University’s website explains that this office can serve as a neutral or impartial facilitator for campus conflicts. This office does not have any official decision-making authority or disciplinary responsibilities. Students might visit the ombuds office for interpersonal/intercultural/group conflicts, confusion around policies or procedures on campus, ethical dilemmas, perceived unfair treatment or bullying, and any other concerns where you’re not sure where to go to get a fair opinion.
•Campus police: Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s website explains that campus police try to provide a safe university environment, protect life and property, investigate crimes and accidents, and give information and assistance when requested. Universities will often have police call boxes located across the campus in public places. Campus police are often available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to help the campus community. Some schools have an escort service where students can request a ride home from a campus building late at night for extra safety.
Finally, just know that getting through a United States college or university involves daily and long-term struggles to succeed. Some bridges are longer than others and require some serious dedication if you want to get to the other side. You need to keep your motivation high, and you need to know how to achieve your goals. Canadian entrepreneur and Olympic gold medalist in men’s rowing Adam Kreek is quoted as having thought of goal creation in CLEAR terms. CLEAR goals are:
You can apply this business model of goal achievement to your student life as well:
•Collaborative: Find any chance you can to work with others. Don’t try to do college by yourself. Create a small, elite group of excellent students, and challenge and inspire each other to be better. I never would have made it through my community college, my undergraduate degree, or graduate school without collaboration.
•Limited: Everyone needs a break sometimes. And every project needs to finish at some point. Make sure your goals have a clear ending point, both in terms of the amount of work you do and the time that work takes you.
•Emotional: You have to care about what you’re doing. Always connect your goals with a real emotion that affects you. Why are you in college? Why are you majoring in this field? What upsets you in the world that you want to change? What makes you sad? What makes you happy? What are your values?
•Appreciable: Break your large goal down into smaller goals. “Graduate from college” is a great goal, but smaller goals that will help you get there might include “Get at least an A- in all of my classes” or, even smaller, “Get at least an A- on the midterm exam.” Achieving these smaller goals will get you one step closer to your ultimate goal.
•Refinable: Things happen, and sometimes we need to make changes to our plans. People get sick. People get hurt. People lose things. Sometimes, we just have some “bad luck” that we didn’t expect. When these things happen to you, make sure you can look at that goal and adjust it to fit your new reality. This doesn’t mean you just give up on that goal. Instead, you have to make sure that your goal has enough flexibility to be refined and modified to fit new circumstances. “Graduate from college” might have meant four years when you first wrote it down, but due to unforeseen circumstances, that might have to change to “Graduate from college in five years.” Don’t let setbacks