How the Successful Succeed
The question was, What are the successful students doing to succeed? The guy asking the question was the father of an incoming freshman to the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. Her name is Emma Louise Farquharson, class of 2015. The event was Parent Orientation earlier this month.
I quickly jotted down Professor Deschamps’ answers, not only to remind Emma of what she needs to do, but also because I saw a strong correlation between the professor’s comments regarding college students and what every sales rep needs to know in order to find success. See if you agree:
1. “They ask for help.” Professor Deschamps started giving this answer even before I was finished with my question. She said successful students make connections with their professors and advisors and keep in touch regularly.
I found it fascinating that this was the first thing out of her mouth. Her observation was that when things don’t go right, the successful student steps up and speaks with or e-mails his/her professor to let them know instead of making excuses. In addition, she said, the successful ones are those who participate in class discussions.
2. “They communicate.” I love this one: Successful students are adept at communicating. They are well spoken and get their points across in writing.
3. “They know their competencies.” Again, fascinating! Successful students are honest with themselves about what they do well and where they need help.
4. “They learn to negotiate.” We all think of negotiation as bargaining and begging. Professor Deschamps’ viewpoint was that learning how to work with others to find a win-win is a critical skill.
5. “They read.” I have to admit, this was my favorite. She talked a lot about how students will use “text-talk” in their college essays. The audience laughed. She continued, “It’s the well-read who understand how to use words to get a point across.”
One last thing about her comments...Professor Deschamps said she knows a student is in trouble when his or her answer to the question, “How are things going for you in my class?” is “Fine.” That, she said, is a red flag. If they say anything other than “Fine,” take it at face value. But if that is all they say, there is a problem and it needs to be investigated.
On an unrelated note, I was astounded to learn that UMass, my alma mater, accepted 34,000 applications for 4,600 spots and that the average GPA to get in was 3.63. Thank God I applied in 1978 and not 2011!!!
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