Goals, vision, discipline:
Best tips by Union students

  • First, you have to want to do well.

Succeeding at academic work stems from your desire to do well for yourself and not for anyone else. Just because your parents or professors want you to do well, doesn't mean you necessarily will. The most important step is deciding you want to do well for your own satisfaction. [Kathy Klemm]

  • Respect hard work.

When I was in my high school, I was not doing well in my studies at all. Joining a boarding school in Nepal was a big change for me. Abiding by all the rules and regulations hostel life demanded was sometimes a lot of strain on me. The rules and discipline cast in iron me made me feel like a prisoner. This was in no way a positive attitude; before success always comes discipline, although it was hard for me to accept it at the time. However, I began to think different after meeting my "Captain". He made me think positive and taught me the value of discipline. I accepted that and no longer felt suffocated by the rules. I accepted the way things were and was determined to learn all I could from my situation. Things started falling back into place. I began to study much harder and do a lot better. I started enjoying my school life and then started doing brilliantly in my studies and even became the "Captain" of the school. From this experience I learned so much that I really would like to convince people that they can do well as well by merely changing their attitude. [Preeti Upadhya]

Be persistent. If I ever come across something I don't understand, then I look for sources that can provide the answer. It doesn't help me to belabor something when I could be spending my time doing something else more productive. [Cregg Brown]

  • Setting goals makes a difference

“A common thief may be able to steal a rail car, but a man with an education can steal the whole railroad.” Theodore Roosevelt

“If you aim for an eagle you may hit a rock, but if you aim for a star you might hit an eagle.”

I strongly believe in setting goals and sticking to the task until the job is done, and done well. Even though this message has been preached over and over, it seems like it is the only way I can achieve success. Without a sense of direction, I feel that every action is an aimless move toward no particular direction. I think goals are very important since they log my journey to my final destination.

Goals can exist in many different forms, from long-term dreams that eventually become reality to mini-goals that are made and accomplished on a daily basis. I personally use goals to tell myself where I want to be at a given time in the future and what I would accomplish by that time. But, between then and now, mini-goals can give me something to strive for in the short run. I design these short-term goals to help me in accomplishing your long-term goal.

And, of course, if you are going to set a goal, persevere until the task is accomplished. Sure there will be obstacles and obstructions to hinder your progress, but don't fret. Work around them, don't become frustrated and give up. [Ryan Lee]


  • Learn to say "no."

It's not easy to tell your friends that you can't do something with them because you have work to do. In the beginning, my friends did not accept this as an "excuse," even though it was valid to me. Sure, it was uncomfortable to do this, but I knew when I had work to do. True, it is important to take breaks, but only when they are necessary. There is a time and place for everything. In the end, however, they understood. [Cregg Brown]

  • Keep your big goals in mind

Anytime I do anything, it helps to visualize the end result. Whether that be with a paper, homework assignment, or exam; I begin with the end in mind. For me, visualization is a very powerful tool. Once you know where you need to go, the getting there is a little easier--once the path is drawn out, you only need the courage to follow. [Cregg Brown]

I hate physics with a passion -- I don't understand it, I don't like it, and I really dislike studying it. In order to fulfill pre-med requirements, though, you have to take two terms of physics. Even though I hated every minute of it, I forced myself to study because I knew in the long run I would be closer to meeting my goal of being a doctor. In the end I did fine, but I was very glad when it was all over! [Rebecca Butterfield]

  • Set realistic goals.

You should have an idea about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Once I was able to establish what I was good at, I was able to set small goals that were easy to accomplish. Little by little, these goals become larger. [Kathy Klemm]

  • Confidence motivates
  • Don't let poor performance discourage you.
  • Work on your ability to focus your energies, your passions

Before studying for something, I always say to myself that I am going to enjoy it. [Preeti Upadhya]

It helps to concentrate on what you're doing while you're doing it. Focusing on my work, while at the same time keeping a broad enough perspective (not getting too stuck into the details), helps me to understand it better. [Cregg Brown]

  • Do a retrospective review
  • Communicate with professors (See using College resources.)
  • Communicate with professors even when doing badly—perhaps suggest extra credit for extra work
  • Find out what allows you to excel.

Realizing your own strengths and weaknesses allows you to focus on the areas which require more effort. I know it takes me a long time to write a paper. Knowing this ahead of time, however, allows me to manage my time and write a better paper. [Kathy Klemm]

  • Look back on good grades in the past and get encouraged.
  • Doing well helps you to have self-esteem.
  • The fundamentals are always the same:
    • Be organized.
    • Be prepared.
    • Do a little at a time
    • Be flexible. Adapt to subject, to professor.