To be (intentional) or not to be (intentional), that is the question

Whether you’re prepping to return to high school or college in a couple of weeks, consider the following:

  • How will you be managing this Fall semester/term?
  • Will you intentionally set yourself up for success or will you just jump in and hope for the best?

If you’ve never approached your semester intentionally, it’s time.

If you have approached your semester intentionally, it’s time to up your game.

When you return to school, your schedule will be locked in. Well, you may want to do a little shifting before the drop/add period is over (if applicable), but those adjustments tend to flow pretty well if you know what you need to take.

Don’t just take any classes that are available; look at all of your choices and lay out a schedule of classes that complement one another, if at all possible.

The point is: After you get all of your classes confirmed, it’s time to set some intentions for your success – this semester and beyond till graduation.

Right now, before you even set foot in a classroom, it’s time to get busy reviewing your course schedule, any syllabi you have access to at this time, and even a little about the teacher/professor.

Take a peek at those expensive textbooks you’re required to buy – check out the table of contents and how the books are laid out.

If your class coursework is available online, check out any articles assigned, the topics being covered, etc.

Get a feel for how your schedule will unfold from week to week – classes everyday, a couple of days a week, in the morning, in the evening, before or after work, etc. It’s important to understand how you will divvy out your time, energy, attention, and effort.

This is especially important if you plan to work while going to school. It’s also important to identify when you will have time available for other activities (i.e., student organizations, events, volunteer work, internships, etc.).

Plan your work and work your plan, your way.

After you review your course schedule, take a peek at the syllabus for each of your courses (if it’s available), peruse your textbooks, and layout your weekly schedule it’s time to identify an area where you can stretch, just a bit.

Do you know any of the teachers/professors who will be teaching your classes this semester?

If you don’t know any of them, select at least two and plan to introduce yourself some time during the first week of class, beyond a head nod or simple hello.

Set an intention to approach him or her after class and introduce yourself.

If this feels a little uncomfortable, how about looking him or her up BEFORE class starts. You can typically find a list of professors on the college website on their department page.

What other classes does he or she teach? What areas do they specialize in? Has he or she written any books or articles of interest to you?

Jot down a couple of questions you can ask, just to prep yourself.

If you’re genuinely interested in their work, mention it and ask a couple of questions.

You’ll get a feel for when and how to approach him or her based on your natural conversation style.

What’s most important is to make a connecting with him or her during that first week of classes.

Then, connect periodically over the course of the semester. Develop a relationship where you ask questions about the course material, upcoming tests, how to study specifically for their class, research you’re interested in, etc.

This doesn’t have to be weird or awkward, just be naturally curious. Professors are people too, and if you express an interest in them and their work, typically, they will respond in kind.

Actually, you know what? I’d like to challenge you to get to know ALL of your professors. It’s a great way to begin building your network of connectors and supporters. 

A time may come when you need a letter of reference or a strong advocate who will step up to bat for you, this is where these connections can help.

A letter of reference can be general and boring OR it can be specific with details and a story that reflects your unique strengths, talents and abilities. This will also reveal your efforts to connect and nurture a relationship with the professor.

Would you be more impressed and interested in a general letter of reference that mentions the class you took and your grade OR one that shares more details about the student (i.e., how he/she handles problems, how they play with others, their interests, their work ethic, etc.)?

Who knows, you just may make a great friend who you can stay connected with after your school/college days are history.

I’ve got students I stay in contact with to this day. We connect every now and then. I’ve even been invited to a couple weddings and a baby shower of past students.

I love knowing how they’re doing and how I can continue to support them, even after they’re out of school and moving forward in their lives. I’ve even had some opportunities to offer some coaching when past students have felt stuck and reached out for some advice or guidance.

Setting a goal to get to know your professors is just one way to be intentional about your success as a student.

Warning: there may be times when you run across a professor who doesn’t play well with students. If this is the case, don’t allow that one experience to sour your efforts to get to know your other professors. One bad experience is one bad experience. Allowing this to create a mold for all professor/student relationships going forward will only rob you of some potentially rich connections.

Most professors selected teaching as their profession of choice because they love learning and they love helping students learn and succeed in their areas of interest.

Being intentional is about being on purpose.

Don’t just let school/college happen. Take the reigns, jump in the driver’s seat and decide how you want your semester to unfold.

Consider this a great time to explore and stretch beyond your comfort zone.

What are some other areas where you can BE INTENTIONAL this Fall?


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Robbi Crawford, Professional Mentor, Sociologist, Author and Speaker. Founder of BrijBrand. Visit BrijBrand for more helpful info and resources. Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn. We’re here to help you play the college game smarter, get unstuck, and get where and what you want faster.

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