Do you enjoy being in college? Have you found a major that really inspires your best work? Have you joined some clubs and organizations?
If so, good for you! If not, it’s not too late.
In February, I delivered a Fresno State Talk on “Discovery,” one of the three elements of our new campus motto. In the lecture, I argued that you can discover success in college by “Keeping the PACE.”
By this, I don’t just mean taking (and passing) 15 units per semester in order to graduate in as close to four years as possible. Keeping the PACE is more than this alone.
P: Passion. You must really like what you are studying in order to be successful. There is no such thing as the “best” major on campus. Instead, it’s what is best for you and your own particular talents. If you are honest with yourself about where your strengths lie, you can find the right major and succeed. Be sure to get solid and regular advising from a professor in your chosen major so that you have the best chance of finishing in a timely fashion.
A: Achievement. You’ve got to try to do your best work. How can you achieve anything without serious effort? If you make the time and really try, you will achieve your personal best. They say it takes on average about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, but as an undergraduate, you might not have 10,000 hours—that would be devoting almost seven hours a day, every day, for four years to what you love studying. Instead, you should aim to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of achievement. Manage your time and try to get eight hours of sleep. It’s hard to do well in school when going on fumes.
C: Courage. Be brave: join a club or organization that takes you out of your comfort zone, so that you meet new people. Become a leader in an organization. Travel abroad, whether for a semester with USAC or even on a short 3-week London mini-semester. Every time that you put yourself out there and do something brave, you’ll grow and become a stronger person.
E: Engagement. Fresno State is an “engaged university,” meaning we do a lot of community service. In fact, thanks to the encouragement of and according to the accounting of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, we have exceeded one million hours of volunteer work this past year as a campus, as in previous years. Try to commit yourself to one volunteer cause, and you’ll see and feel the benefits of helping others.
Remember, there are lots of us here ready and willing to help you achieve your goals. Please talk with your professors and other advisers, and try to do your best. I hope you all have a wonderful year!
Honora Chapman is Associate Professor of Classics and Humanities, as well as director of the Smittcamp Family Honors College.