FROM THE POUCH
Volume 1, Issue 4 – September 29, 2014
Give Them a Chance to Say “Yes”
I’ve been involved in colleges for a long time. My first teaching job was in 1981, so it has been 33 years now. I’ve been a faculty member (assistant professor, associate professor, full professor), a department chair, an associate dean, a dean, a vice president, and now a president. You might say that I’ve seen a lot. I’d like to share something very important that I’ve noticed over the years.
Here’s the big secret: When it comes to trying to move ahead, we’re often our own worst enemies.
I’ll tell you the biggest thing that we do to sabotage ourselves further down in this blog, but first, let me give you a few examples you’ve no doubt seen yourselves that students do to harm themselves. Perhaps you’re guilty of a few of these things yourself. I know I was.
- Blowing off a class: I’ve seen lots of students sign up for a class, and then not show up for it, or not do the homework, or not study. Look—I know that there are lots of fun and interesting things to do on campus. Hang out with friends. Go to parties. Watch TV. Try to find a boyfriend or girlfriend. These are all great things, but work comes first. Otherwise, you’ve just flushed your tuition dollars (and something far more valuable—your time) down the toilet.
- Having a question in class, but not asking it because you’re afraid that others will laugh at you or think you’re stupid. In reality, I’ve never seen anyone laughed at for asking a question. Most often, other students say “Hey—I’m glad you asked that—I didn’t understand that either.”
- Needing help in class, but never going to see the professor or for tutoring, because you’re afraid the professor or tutor will think you’re stupid. In reality, I’ve known hundreds of faculty who say “How come the students who come by to see me are the ones who need help the least, and the ones who never come are the ones who need help the most?”
- Bombing a quiz or a test, and not bothering to see what the right answer was, because it’s over and done with. In reality, I know lots of faculty who purposefully will take questions that students got wrong, and repeat them on the next test or on the final, because they want to see who bothered to learn it. In fact, a really good way to study for a test is to get a copy of last year’s test and use it as a study guide. Many faculty will be happy to give you a copy of last year’s exam, and still others will be happy to give you a practice test. If they haven’t already done this, why not ask? The worst thing that will happen is that they’ll say “no”, in which case you’re no worse off than before.
- Having a problem on campus, but never trying to get help with it because you’re afraid no one will care. In reality, at SUNY Canton lots of people really care and are ready to help you. If it’s a personal problem, your friends, advisor, residence hall director, and the counseling folks care. For health issues, our health center folks care. For academic problems, the faculty and tutors care. For financial issues, our financial aid folks care. And if you’ve tried to get help with anything and run into a brick wall—I CARE.
OK—these are some pretty common errors lots of students make, and they can have serious consequences on being able to move ahead. Some people who do these things to themselves even turn around and try to blame others for what happened as a result.
The one biggest thing that I’ve seen people do to sabotage themselves, though, is that they’ll tell themselves “no”.
This happens in lots of ways:
- You meet someone you’d like to be friends with or go out with, but you tell yourself “No—why would they want to be friends with me or go out with me?” In reality, they may not be interested and you may feel bad as a result. But by not taking the chance, you guarantee that you’ll feel bad (since you never even tried, and that will eat at you) and guarantee that the answer will be no, since you never gave them the chance to say yes. Don’t say “no” to yourself. Give them a chance to say “yes”.
- You see an internship, competition, or project you’d like to be part of, but you tell yourself “No—they’ll never choose me. There are smarter people than me out there—why would they choose me?” In reality, most internships, competitions, and projects rely on teams of people. In a good team, each person brings different skills, and no one person has them all. If you apply, you may not be chosen, and you may feel bad as a result. But, by not taking the chance, you guarantee that you’ll feel bad (since you’ll always wonder “what if”) and you guarantee that you won’t be chosen, since you never gave them the chance to choose you. I’ve personally gotten funded for grants I was positive I didn’t have a chance of getting, and won competitions I thought I didn’t have a chance of winning. I know many other people who have too. Don’t say “no” to yourself. Give them a chance to say “yes”.
- You see a job listing for a job you’d really like to have, but you tell yourself “No—I don’t have all the attributes that are listed in the ad. Someone else out there will—they’ll never choose me.” In reality, it’s very rare that a job candidate has all the attributes listed in an ad. If they do, chances are that someone else would have already hired them for another job. If you apply, you may not be chosen, and you may feel bad as a result. But, by not applying, you guarantee you won’t be chosen. I’ve personally been offered jobs whose ads listed things I didn’t have, and I know lots of other people who have too. Don’t say “no” to yourself. Give them a chance to say “yes”.
Look—everyone, and I mean everyone, has that little voice in the back of their head that tells them “You don’t measure up. You won’t succeed. They’ll find you out.” The people who get ahead are the ones who ignore that voice, and don’t say “no” to themselves. No one wins every battle, and no one gets chosen for everything. The people who succeed are the ones who don’t let a “no” stop them and keep on trying. Give them a chance to say “yes”. And keep on trying.
Student Issue Resolutions
No new student issues submitted this week, but here’s a photo update of improvements in the tennis courts that someone brought up last week.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest had to do with the word “cold”. The first person getting all four correct was Jessica Fischer. Others getting all four right included Kim Kurdziel, Connor Hellwig, Larry Sanchez, Mackeba Campbell, Cindy Heineman, Denver Berry, Mollie Mayette, Melinda Miller, Tanya Brown, Francesco Palumbo, Jessica Charleston, Michaela Beyette, and Damieka Redden.
Just come by my office (6th floor of FOB) to get your prize, Jessica, any time after Wednesday. Here are the correct answers:
- British band whose albums “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, “X&Y”, “Viva la Vida”, “Mylo Xyloto” and “Ghost Stories” all hit #1. Cold Play
- What you have if you’re afraid to do something. Cold Feet.
- 1977 song by Foreigner, its first line ends with “you’re willing to sacrifice our love.” (You’re As) Cold as Ice.
- Quitting an addiction all at once. Going Cold Turkey.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Just to show that the Pouch is always fair and balanced, since last week’s challenge all dealt with the word “cold”, this week’s questions all deal with the word “hot”. The first reply with the most answers right takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- Someone who is really angry is said to be this.
- A souped up car.
- Song by Foreigner–check it and see.
- Microwaveable turnover, made by Nestle.