By: Paula A. Negrón
Olga Hernandez was a student at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (Colegio), who graduated June 26, 2011 with high grades obtaining a score of 3.90 being Magna Cum Laude and obtaining a 4.0 in Accounting. She was a very responsible student and worked hard to earn her grades. Sometimes she wouldn’t sleep, sitting in her dorm living room table with a cup of coffee and her books, but she always found time to relax or go out usually to the movies. It was not until her last semester that she would actually go to parties. Now she’s an Auditory Intern in the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Federal Agency in Washington D.C. and she is an example of a successful student.
Being responsible is merely one of the qualities a student should have, but which other traits should she or he have? What makes a student successful? These questions were answered by Mario Nuñez, a psychology professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, at a conference for the students of AEPSIC (Association for Psychology Students) titled “The Ideal Student.”
- How should the student be?
ü The student has a plan A and a plan B for the future and a list of goals to accomplish; having all these things clear, he or she explores possibilities like where to study, new findings in a subject of interest and most importantly, the student does this for the sake of learning.
- What traits should the student have?
– The Student pays attention in class: Normally the student participates, takes notes; asks interesting questions and demonstrates to the professor that he or she is an active participant in the learning process and that he or she takes the job of being a student seriously.
– Responsibility: The student does what the professor assigns on time and turns in neat and sharp assignments. The student is early to class and if absent the student feels obligated to tell the professor why he or she was absent before class with reasonable excuses and makes sure to understand what was covered in class.
– Love for learning: The student often does optional work and takes advantage of extra credit possibilities; genuinely likes to read. This student also enjoys other activities such as music and art aside from studying.
Despite these points given, Prof. Nuñez also explained that for these qualities to persist, the students must have motivation, not only from the professors and parents, but from themselves. “I had a high intrinsic motivation and worked very hard. I always liked to read and my plan was to be a professor at the Colegio,” he said. Nevertheless, to stay motivated the student must keep a balanced life. “Balance is necessary and very important,” he added.
Prof. Nuñez explained that balance and control of social life is important for mental health; it helps the student to feel more relaxed and reduces stress and anxiety. He divided students into three groups:
- The one who always socializes: has no control over social life therefore, this student’s grades seem negatively affected.
- The balanced student: this student knows that even though a lot of time is needed to study properly, personal time is needed for relaxing and other non-academic activities.
- The one with no social life: normally spends all the time studying, gets easily frustrated, his or her self-esteem also is affected and this may affect the students grades.
Olga Hernandez, the student who graduated from “Colegio,” also explained that the times when she went out were to less busy places and it wasn’t until her last semester that she really went out and partied all night. “After all the time I spent studying and all the time I cried, I must say it was worth it,” she said.
Prof. Nuñez said that generally success is defined by having attained wealth, positions and honors, though for a lot of people success is very different. Prof. Nuñez added that success is not restricted to earning a College degree and he drew attention to the fact that very prominent people in the world only had high school diplomas. “Today more than ever success is not defined by a college degree; success can be when students find their element and do great things with what they love to do.” Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, once said “The only way to do great work is to love what you do,” and that is the key to success.