10 Brutally Honest Tips for Success at Suffolk
1.) Actually freaking try
This might seem a bit condescending, but all I’m trying to say is that we sell ourselves short of our own potential all the time while we’re in school for many various reasons, and most of them are just excuses.
If you can get a good grade in a class but choose not to, either by missing multiple classes, being lazy, or simply mailing in a subpar effort, you are only harming yourself. This is an attitude I cannot wrap my mind around. You are paying a VAST amount of money to shoot yourself in the foot. Don’t do it.
2.) Try not to procrastinate
I’m actually wincing as I type this because I am the definition of a hypocrite right now and it hurts. But my advice is sound. There were so many times my life would have been a million times easier if I just put on my work hat for 30 minutes instead of screwing around and waiting until the last minute to do something.
Even if this means knocking out a small part of a big assignment a few days early, the work and stress this little step will save you when the deadline is breathing down your neck is worth not watching that 10th consecutive episode of “The Mindy Project” or whatever you binge-watch when you should be doing something important. Just because you can get a good grade despite waiting until the night before, and believe me, I got plenty of those stories, doesn’t mean you always should.
3.) Participate in class
This is another thing that I never quite understood fully. Even before I gained confidence speaking in front of people, I loved answering questions in my classes or reading out loud or participating in class debates. I just liked my voice being heard in a room full of people, even if I was nervously shaking the whole time. College provides you with endless opportunities to engage not just in class lectures, but actual honest to god conversations with intelligent professors about a topic you supposedly find interesting.
Do not underestimate the impression that regularly speaking up in class leaves on a professor. Once a professor knows your name, your face, it opens up a possibility for a reference for life; and if you truly enjoy the professor, a friend. At Suffolk, you never know how many connections a professor might have until you gain that friendly repertoire with them and it is certainly worth finding out.
4.) Check your cynicism at the door
I’m really going to try to avoid being holier-than-thou or preachy here. But I feel like I can speak on behalf of cynical people since I used to be a member on the Small Council of cynical suffolk students before I realized what a dreary life such an attitude provides. Constantly playing devil’s advocate or scoffing in class, turning your nose up at anyone or anything that strikes you as “lame,” and just generally being that guy is the easiest way to wind up alone and miserable.
Cynical people think Dr. House is a hero because he doesn’t care what anybody thinks, because he trumps emotions and faith with hardnosed facts, knockout insults, and, above all, being more intelligent than anybody who thinks he’s just cynical.
Well Dr. House is a pretty cool guy, sure. The only thing is that he’s a scripted television character. A scripted television character who is, more often than not, completely miserable, alone, and bitter. Even if you are as smart as Dr. House (which you are not), nobody is going to be impressed at how you knew about Deadmau5 before he was mainstream. Don’t be that guy. It truly isn’t worth it. See how many more friends you make when you stop trying to prove your intellect at every possibility.
5.) Break free from that comfort zone
When I got to college, I was excited about the opportunities in front of me but also equally petrified of them. It takes a lot of courage to go outside the realms of what makes you feel comfortable, and especially in a brand new environment. I totally sympathize with people who are shy or insecure; my entire freshman year consisted of me going to class and then immediately going home. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I finally got fed up with blocking myself from trying things and I started to really enjoy Suffolk.
I know this seems like generic, oversimplified advice, but it really is as simple as making a choice. Are you alright with being complacent and safe and perhaps missing out on things, or do you want to make the choice to put yourself out there and try to experience things? For me, I had lived long enough scared of myself and the world.
Once you step out and take a risk a few times, it only gets easier. Little by little I learned that trying and failing actually isn’t the worst thing in the world, and once you stop doubting and over-analyzing that fact, the world is truly open to you.
6.) Join a club, any club
You’ve all heard this a million times, but in case you really don’t think it’s important, please allow me to echo the sentiments of everybody else. If you don’t find a student activity, a club, or some kind of gathering of people where you can feel part of a team and make new connections, you will DESPISE Suffolk. It is not a place where you will be happy coasting from class to class and never joining anything. My freshman year is a stark reminder of that.
Joining The Suffolk Voice was pivotal in finding a place for myself; an activity to call my own. It makes coming to school way more fun when you have something like that to look forward to.
7.) Challenge yourself
While a lot of people make jokes about the academic quality and standards of Suffolk, you can be challenged if you choose to be. My senior year I chose to register for an honors communication course where the end goal was to write a comprehensive thesis paper. This was entirely optional, but I felt it would be a good way to cap my senior year. I read a ton, I took a ton of notes, and it was definitely the most challenging paper I had ever written, but I felt very proud when I aced the class and got an extra pair of cords for graduation. My hard work had tangibly paid off.
That feeling is always something to shoot for while you’re in school. It’s so easy, especially if you’re an intelligent person, to stop feeling proud of good grades or to feel as if you’ve simply met an expectation of your own standards when you do well. I attest that it’s important to note accomplishments and to shoot often for those lofty goals.
8.) But don’t overwhelm yourself
It’s Sunday night. You have two essays due, 15 chapters of reading left, a student activity meeting to prepare for, and you’ve neglected to get ahead in your work at your internship. You’re sweating, you’re cursing, you are overwhelmed. This is the obvious pitfall of challenging yourself and becoming involved with clubs and taking classes seriously.
Not procrastinating is the obvious way to avoid this kind of dilemma, but other steps can be taken to avoid that feeling of being crushed under your responsibilities. Make sure to take your tasks one at a time. Nobody can study for Biology, define philosophy terms, read Shakespeare, and make a spreadsheet at the same time. If you have to stay up late, grab a 5-hour Energy and stay up late. You have a lot of stuff to do, but that’s going to happen a lot in life. Getting worked up and freaking out isn’t going to get the stuff done any faster so take a breath, caffeinate if you’re into that sort of thing, focus on one thing at a time, and get to work.
Our generation is becoming permanently associated with the new ways in which we communicate. We do it five different ways often before we have breakfast, and yet a lot of us won’t take five minutes to write out an email to a professor about not understanding something in the homework.
I cannot stress how important it is to regularly make contact with professors and faculty members. Something as simple as a friendly email might be able to buy you an extension on a paper, or revisions to confusing homework, or the comforting knowledge that you won’t fail the course if you have to take a class off for whatever reason. Take the time, make that personal contact, you might be surprised how much it can help.
10.) Make it your own
I think what I loved the most about Suffolk University was that no two students’ stories are the same. People come from such unique backgrounds and have such varied passions that everyone gets to graduation a little differently. I stress to any student reading this to live out the rest of your days in college as free as you can be. Don’t be shackled by anybody else’s expectations and don’t shy away from something solely because you’re scared. You should be able to look back on your days at Suffolk fondly, remembering the moments that you chose to be in.
Suffolk gives students a shining opportunity to do just that. You’re given endless chances to find a path that you want to take, one that works just for you.