To stay ahead of the competition on your campus, you need to look beyond the daily tasks that you have inside the classroom and create opportunities for the future. Students shouldn’t settle. Strategic thinking is a way of looking at your academics with a broader focus.
Cultivating the characteristics of a strategic-minded student:
- Be Proactive – Anticipate change, in the way your professors teach a certain class, the engagement model of a student organization, campus events during the term, etc. and look for opportunities. Whether it’s inside the classroom or outside, find or create the solutions to the problems happening around you. You stand out as a student, by modifying your approach, to an existing problem. Use your time inside the box to observe, then step out the box to create change.
- Ability to Prioritize – Stop equating being busy with being effective/productive. Once you place a high value on class or side-projects, there will be a high potential for great impact and return on investment (ROI). If you find yourself having a full plate of homework, projects, student leadership responsibilities, etc. learn the importance of prioritizing – on a scale of importance and urgency. Set yourself up each term, in a way that you can maximize your performance and you bring your best self to everything that you face. Stop being attracted to the “broke student” or “busy student” lifestyle, flip the switch on your situation!
- Become Curious – Become actively interested in what is going on throughout your campus and industry. You can creatively build a bridge between your campus and career, by being actively engaged and present in both ends of the spectrum. Ask questions and challenge the system. You never know how challenging assumptions can spark creativity or how changing your daily routine could help you see that things can be done in different ways.
- Focus on the Long-term – Be willing to invest today to gain a better outcome tomorrow. As students, we all know that being in college is a huge investment, but are you really thinking about the long-term and ROI? What seed can you sow now, personally and in your community, that can be harvested soon?
- Stay Committed to Life-long Learning – Proactively seek knowledge and skills. After we graduate, we may lose the title of a student, but we must never lose the mentality of a student. A student that is committed to expanding their knowledge and growing in their industry. Become a student of life and an expert in your field! Be willing to teach others, whether that’s in class or a side-project you’re involved in. You don’t have to know it all, but you must be willing to share what you do know, as you learn what you don’t Not only will it help reinforce what you know, but you are also building a community of students who see you as a bank of knowledge/mentor.
- Be Creative – Consider unorthodox ideas. As students, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of having a traditional academic career path. Be different, create a trend. I’m not saying that being creative and trying new things will guarantee success, but it will guarantee experience. Experiences that you can leverage in different situations that you find yourself. Build an indispensable bank of experiences, skills and stories.
- Be Open – Don’t be limited to a traditional or current thinking. Be willing to try new methods to step out of the box. Students step out of the box! The box that you have placed yourself in, the box that your family, professors, classmates, potential employers have placed you in. Under promise and over deliver – you might just surprise yourself once you tap into your full potential.
-Blessing Adogame, RTC Fellow + Drexel University, Rising Junior
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