Leveraging Your Dreams to Find Academic Success
When our College Life Coordinators talk to students about following their dreams, they are not referring to rainbows and unicorns but to real, heart-felt student aspirations.
The charge to pursue your dreams (i.e. do what you love) is certainly not a new recommendation. Confucius told us to “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Modern business leaders reiterate the advice: Steve Jobs tells us, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do;” Warren Buffett advises, “Take a job that you love.” Poet, Maya Angelou implores us to “…pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
“Now research proves that working hard in a field that you love will give your life meaning and purpose. Productive work…challenges you to continue learning and to strive towards mastery.” Business and the arts embrace the science of loving what you do, why not education?
While we’re not advocating that all of our students become astronauts or rock stars, we do encourage students to base their educational pursuits on their own heart-felt goals (things they love) rather than on meeting the expectations of others. Pursuing self-identified, self-generated, self-directed goals creates a more meaningful college experience and post-graduate life. It also creates motivational drive and proves Confucius’ point. When your field of study is in keeping with your dreams, homework becomes a delight.
Our role at Focus Collegiate is to help students manage the actual daily activities that will get them to their dream.
Rather than coaching for compliance as some programs do, we help students access their dreams by creating trusting resonant relationships in which those dreams are envisioned and explored in depth and in a pragmatic, strategic way. According to researchers at Case Western Reserve University using EEG technology to examine neural activation, ‘visioning,’ or asking students to reflect upon their dreamed-about future ten years hence, activates parts of the visual cortex involved in imagining things.
Discussing expectations, on the other hand, activates the parts of the brain known to indicate self-consciousness and guilt. “The…more positive approach to coaching stimulated those parts of the brain involved in being open to new ideas and other people.”
Focus Collegiate coaches use “the more positive approach” and emotional intelligence to develop a learning agenda that taps into and each student’s dream. Utilizing emotional intelligence— self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills—to connect with our students and create resonant relationships has an evidence basis for producing desirable and sustained results.
In other words, by identifying, considering, and giving credence to the student’s dream, we help them begin to recognize and schedule the changes and incremental steps that will bring them closer to its achievement. Along the way, we support students in the development of self-assessment techniques. Every four weeks, we work with them to reassess short-term and mid-term goals to make sure they are still in alignment with the dream.
As our founder Grant Leibersberger puts it,