By Ricky Singh – February 18, 2014
Earlier this year, I was asked to address first year students on how to be a successful student. After spending a long time reflecting on this, I distilled my thought process into three key ingredients, which I feel any student can apply to achieve success. To give some context, let me tell you a bit about my background.
After graduating from McMaster University in 2009, I wasn’t really sure about what the next step was. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue physiotherapy, medicine or chiropractic. I wrote the MCAT, volunteered at a physio clinic and was hired as a kinesiologist at a chiropractic clinic. I was ecstatic because I had just graduated from University and I landed a job in the same field I just spent 4 years learning about. The only thing that sucked was that I was getting paid minimum wage, working mostly part time with no benefits. I knew I wanted to go back to school to learn more about manual therapy so I applied to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) and I am now a fourth year clinic intern as well as the CMCC Students’ Council President.
So, what does it mean to be an engaged student? An engaged student is one who is prepared to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and who utilizes every resource necessary for success. An engaged student has his/her own definition of success and follows a thought process which will undoubtedly lead to its achievement. In order to be an engaged and successful student, there is a recipe which I have followed. There are several recipes out there but this is the one I have been following and I credit all my achievements to this thought process.
Ingredient #1: Have a Clear Vision
First off, you have to have a clear vision, an end goal as to what you see yourself doing. It can be absolutely anything but it has to be something, you have to be able to clearly define what it is you want to be known for or what kind of career you want to pursue after graduating. Having a vision is important because it creates purpose for every action you make. It allows you to answer questions like why should I wake up at 8 am and go to class? Why should I actively participate in extracurricular activities? Well because if I don’t, then my vision will NOT become a reality. It’s as simple as that. A clear vision defines purpose and with purpose comes motivation. Motivation gives you the energy to take action so in order to keep your motivation high, you need to have a clear vision of what it is you want to become.
You need to have a plan in place that defines the steps needed to make your vision a reality and you need to understand the cost associated with your plan. I started first year at CMCC with a vision and a plan. One of my goals is to be known as the lead authority in rehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions. What did I do? I contacted as many of the current lead authorities in this area, shadowed them, asked them questions and got to know what made them the best. I helped create a club focused on teaching students rehabilitation exercises called Rehab 2 Performance which started at CMCC and is now established in over 16 institutions in North America. I’ve attended 35 continuing education seminars over the past 3 years on top of the CMCC academic course load . I’m not trying to brag but i’m trying to make a point. I came here with a clear vision; I created a plan and was prepared to pay the cost. I was prepared to give up sleep, give up watching my favorite TV shows (except breaking bad and Game of Thrones) and even give up spending time with friends and family because I knew that in order for my vision to become a reality, I would have to be prepared to make sacrifices. I stuck with the plan and was prepared to pay the cost.
Ingredient #3: Have a Bulletproof Attitude
The final ingredient is having a bulletproof attitude. The most important thing to realize is that attitude is everything, facts don’t matter. How you look at and accept what challenges and obstacles come your way will shape you as an individual. Its more than just having a positive attitude. Take for example failing an exam, the fact is that you failed, your mark was below a 60% but at the present moment you can’t change the result. But that’s not important. What’s important is what you decide to do in response to failure, that’s what matters. You can decide to take failure as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, come back a stronger and smarter student the second time around, or you can stay defeated and not take any action. When your attitude is shaped for success, no matter what, you will always fall forward. You will always be progressing towards making your vision a reality. Attitude and the way you look at life are so very important in achieving success.
You are all investing a great deal into your futures. To get the best return on your investment you need to take advantage of being a student. You have access to resources which professionals in the field have to pay an arm and a leg for. You have access to faculty who are world-renowned experts in their field, so pick their brains, ask them questions and take advantage of this amazing opportunity that you have.
Create your vision, define what it is you want and write it down somewhere you can see it every morning and night. Make a plan, be prepared to pay the cost and adopt a bulletproof attitude that is shaped for success.