September 26, 2016
Dear LoMA Family,
Last year the New York Times published a survey of suggestions from college upperclassmen for new students about how to be successful and happy in college. Reviewing the list last week, I was struck by how similar their list was to letters of advice that my advisory last year had wrote for this year’s freshmen class. I guess whether we are talking about college or high school, the same general rules of success apply. Here’s the list; do you agree?
- Extend Yourself: School should not simply be about taking the required classes and doing what is the minimum. I made this mistake in high school and hated it. When I was at college I joined student government, wrote for the newspaper, took part in political protests and became an athlete. None of this was easy for me as I was shy (really) and thought I was too cool for extracurriculars. I was wrong which is why we don’t give our students a choice about participating. The extracurricular activities carousel is tomorrow and activities start Wednesday. Try something new to extend yourself!
- Do the work: Every one of my former students wrote about the importance of completing homework. I remember that a bunch of them learned this the hard way. They all started off strong in September, but as the work load got heavier, they began missing assignments which led to failure. It’s even worse in college where teachers assume that students should complete two hours of homework for every hour of class time. This is the biggest reason why about half of all freshmen never graduate college. LoMA’s students, on the other hand, have a high rate of college success because they have learned the importance of completing homework thoroughly and on time.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Teachers can’t always tell when students need help, but our entire staff is ready to do what they can when students come to them for support. The most obvious examples are tutoring and Credit Plus. Remember, you can just walk in the art room and work on your schoolwork while getting fed during lunch. Beyond this, our counselors are here to lend an ear when anyone is upset, the clinic offers confidential services and our clubs are designed to help you nurture healthy friendships. On Tuesday, you will also hear about the opportunity to work with a mentor.
4. Be yourself: As one student wrote, “Don’t compare yourself to other students. It is easy to feel lost [but] remember that everyone has unique talents, and you have four years to cultivate yours.” Too many students feel pressure to be someone they are not to fit in. A very common theme in the letters was about making friends that you can trust. Friends who relentlessly gossip, rarely do anything productive or act mean towards other can bring you down. To a large degree, we adopt the values of our friends. Therefore, you need to consider whether your friends represent who you want to be in life.
I think this is a pretty good list. Is it the one you would come up with? High school and college offer so many opportunities, but it is easy to miss them if we don’t put in the effort and make wise decisions.