(Download President Michael's 15 Theses as a PDF file)
When my daughter went to college, I wrote out for her a list of advice, fatherly advice, if you will. A few rules to go by that would help her, or anyone for that matter, to succeed in their college experience.
Martin Luther had his 95 theses; these were my 15 theses — 15 theses for succeeding in college. Over time, these 15 theses found their way onto the bulletin boards of a number of college students, sons and daughters of my friends, nephews and nieces. My niece, who is now attending Harvard, renamed them “Uncle Michael’s 15 Theses for Succeeding in College”
Well, our staff found out about this list of avuncular advice and, as a result, when you leave here today you are going to receive a bookmark that lists now, “President Michael’s 15 theses for succeeding in college.”
Today I will give you a sampling of two of the theses. Thesis number nine says, “Find something about which to be passionate: A course, an activity, a research project, a club, a job, an internship. Your learning will accelerate when you throw yourself into something.” And there is no time like now to start.
You probably have heard about this thing called Connected Learning. I dare say you are going to hear a lot more pretty soon. At its core, it relates to this thesis. Find something outside of class that you really care about, that you will work hard at, that you will be involved in with all your energy and with all your might. Bring that experience back to the classroom, and you will deepen your learning — you will cement your learning in a way that is less likely to escape you — that you are more likely to remember, that you are more likely to incorporate into your mental processes and into your very character. Find something outside of class about which to be passionate.
Thesis number five says, “Carry at least one book with you wherever you go.” Everyone in college feels like they have more reading than they can possibly do. Whether it’s true or not, get in the habit of carrying one book with you wherever you go. When you are waiting in line, when you have a free moment before or after class, when you are just relaxing, when you are waiting for someone to meet you, open that book, read a couple of pages; get in the habit of reading all the time. Read for your courses, but also read for pleasure. Read for variety. Believe me, it is all worth your time, and your time will be used most effectively and efficiently if you carry at least one book with you at all times.
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