College Advice, from Teacher to Student

Kearin Ever Cook/Pratt Institute/New York Times

The New York Times recently published an opinion piece by Susan Shapiro, “College Advice I Wish I’d Taken,” that I found worth reading and sharing with students, parents and other higher education stakeholders. Shapiro shares seven bits of wisdom from which she – once a mediocre student preoccupied with boyfriends and partying – could have benefited.

As a faculty member, I most related to the advice to “show up and speak up.” Now a teacher, Shapiro realized that those students sitting in the front and participating regularly received benefits: “I reward those who try harder with recommendations, references, professional contacts and encouragement.” I agree; when I know students better, I can use specifics for those recommendations, and I provide anecdotal evidence of their commitment to learning and hard work.

Shapiro’s insights are just a starting point, however. Graduates of your department or college can supplement with insights for a particular degree or career. Likewise, different groups on campus (such as women in STEM) can help reduce the time it takes to understand unspoken rules.

Regardless of one’s role in higher education, learning from others matters. Shapiro’s opinion piece provides a good starting place for advice that can affect change.


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