If you go to visit a person in a hospital or nursing home, you may quickly realize they lack a sense of what day of the week it is, or have their days and nights mixed up, and you see that they are disoriented. When a psychologist begins a psychoeducational evaluation, their first assessment can be “is this person oriented to time and place?” Do they know where they are, what day it is? What year it is? We all need a routine at a very basic level that gives our life structure. What does that mean at the most basic level? We need a foundation for our life. Remember the nursery story of the three little pigs? We all know that to build a strong house or building, we have to start with “good dirt.” Are you building your life with good dirt? Are you building your “house” with bricks, with sticks, or with sand?
When we work with students, a great question to start with is: Do they know the fundamentals of being successful in school or life? Do they start with good dirt? For me, this good dirt is the equivalent of a life with discipline. Do they know how important it is to make sure their mind, body, and spirit are healthy and whole? So many adolescents and young adults think somehow they are invincible. Part of the growing up process is sometimes learning the hard way that what elders told you is true: if you don’t eat right, get the proper amount of sleep, exercise, or have a discipline around your spiritual foundation – your school and work life can be difficult. We have all been the “life of the party” only to realize we are not very effective the next day at work or at school.
Does your student or young adult have a structure for school? Are they learning how to learn? Are they creating a structure for success? Having a routine to life that includes quiet time, exercise time, shopping time, dinner time, study time, school time, work time, and play or leisure time is important. Without a structure our lives can quickly get unmanageable!
Moving from a home environment in high school with a parent providing the structure to a college environment is absolutely fraught with DANGER! There will be many students who start out with high hopes but who, without the proper structure for life and school, will drop out or flunk out. When we recently visited Hyde School in Maine, we got to spend time with Malcolm Gauld, President of Hyde Schools, who has written a book about college success, College Success Guaranteed- 5 Rules to Make it Happen, make sure to check out the video below. We as parents and educational consultants spend so much time on college applications and admissions, and so little time on how to help a student be successful once they get there! Malcolm’s first rule of the five is simple: GO TO CLASS. We challenge you to email us back the other four rules! Malcolm’s book is all about how to create a structure for college success.
Do you know what the first year retention rate is at the school you are applying to for college? Will you be part of the percentage of students who drops out or who succeeds? How will you create your own plan for college success? Will you surround yourself with unhealthy, undisciplined peers or healthy ones?