Three Words Students Want to Hear to Succeed

Much like saying, “I love you” can change the course of a relationship, these three word sentences can change the course of students’ academic future. Ever been stuck yourself, until someone pointed you in the right direction–then everything seemed possible again?

I struggled, too.” For many students, especially those from underrepresented populations, the gap between their own learning struggles and the expertise of their professors can seem too big to bridge. Students who did well in high school might perceive getting a poor grade on an assignment as feedback telling them they aren’t good enough for college, instead of seeing it as a reason to try new ways of studying. As shared in this short but thought provoking NY Times story, Who Gets to Graduate, letting students know about our own struggles positively impacts students’ success. Who knew my first D on a calculus test could be used to help others?

You’re not alone.” Beyond letting students know they are not alone when encountering academic struggles, letting students know they are not alone if they are struggling with mental health issues for themselves and/or friends and family is even more critical during to offset Covid isolation and economic troubles. Sharing with students the reality that many college students have mental health struggles along with mental health resources such as Ferris’ new YOU site emphasizes having struggles and succeeding in college are not mutually exclusive. They may feel alone, but the are NOT alone.

Top five college students’ mental health challenges: depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and addiction, with suicide being the #2 cause of death.

National Institute of Mental Health as quoted by the Imagine America Foundation, 2020

This will pass. Many students lack historical perspective on how struggles inside and outside of college during their studies happen over time–they are investing in themselves and counting on a successful future. Addressing current contexts related to your discipline in the future helps keep their focus on success despite challenges. Like many, we went without a lot when I went back to school following the 2007 – 2009 recession, but my new degree prepared me for future economic stability

How does your discipline ebb and flow?

Yes, you can. Years ago following an open lab I hosted for my at-risk students to redo and/or make up assignments so they could pass the required course, one student asked, “why are you doing this for me?” “Because I believe you can do this, ” I replied. I’ll always remember how the whole lab atmosphere shifted as students processed what this meant to them. A common thread in recent Ferris student feedback surveys presented at SPARC is students’ desire to succeed. Especially when giving feedback on students’ work, is it obvious to them you believe they can succeed, and you will provide them with the tools they need?

It’s right here. One of the reasons students often cite for not being able to succeed in their courses is inability to find their way around the materials and assignments. One quick way to help students is to organize your course navigation menu to eliminate extra information. Another helpful strategy to increase student success is sharing an annotated screencast so they can literally see what you are talking about.

What three words of advice do you have for students? Use the comments feature below to share!

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