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"A" is for Attitude


October 11, 2011 http://www.southuniversity.edu/whoweare/newsroom/blog/a-is-for-attitude

By Guest Blogger

Timothy Vann Dennis
Game Art & Design Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

I used to think it was impossible to get all A’s. My high school career was rife with pressure and disappointment and I barely squeaked by. I grew weary of cliché phrases designed to motivate me like, “You’re not applying yourself!” or “You’re wasting your potential”. Or the big one, “How do you expect to get into college?” I wanted to please but found myself giving up as soon as things got tough. Parents and teachers looked at me in confused concern and disapproval. Simply put, I choked.

Now, it is some years later, and a couple of decades have passed. I’ve got some life experience under my belt and here I am trying again. But there’s a major difference in my attitude and I find myself with an entirely new academic experience. It’s exhilarating! I can’t wait to see the grade book. I can’t wait to see how my instructors respond to my assignments. I can’t wait to exchange ideas with my classmates or crack open the text to discover the mysteries of the chosen subject.

What’s changed? How could a mediocre high school slacker suddenly become such an energetic participant in the learning process? How can I, an admitted ne’er-do-well, suddenly be pulling all A’s?

Honestly, there are a lot of factors but first of all it’s all in the attitude, the perspective. I’ve changed my outlook.

Number one: I’m here for me. I’m not trying to impress anyone but myself. I stopped trying to think about how I want my instructors to like me or my work. Every assignment is for my benefit, not theirs. In this way I’ve been able to take hits on a few missed answers, chalking it up to having those hard subjects clarified. In the real world I’ll have to impress potential employers with my knowledge; here it’s okay to mess up as long as I finish the course with the knowledge I need. The disapproval of people in authority is not a factor anymore. At least not until I’m posting resumes, and then I’ll have the confidence of my GPA and a stellar portfolio.

Number two: learning is now my top priority. It has become the most fun I’ve ever had because I’ve learned how to own my success. With every piece of knowledge I’m expected to soak up, I find that it’s easier to want to since I’ve gotten the ball rolling. It’s as simple as giving myself ample time to understand the material. It’s all there in the lectures, the texts, and the instructor’s head! With my motivation feeding my quest for knowledge I’ve begun jumping straight in without hesitation. I want to learn. I want to understand. I want to keep that high that comes with knowing I’m mastering the subject at hand.

I’m not getting straight A’s because I’m some sort of super over-achiever; I’m getting straight A’s because I don’t care about the A’s. I care about the knowledge I’m paying to get.

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