Part Ten: Hold Yourself Accountable
Hey there! Welcome to the final part of the 2023 edition of How to Succeed in College. In part nine we described the many paths to success. By now, you should be feeling pretty good about yourself. You’ve worked to develop a success mindset, you know how to work smart and manage your time, you’re taking care of yourself and your relationships, you’re using your school’s resources, and you’re approaching your assignments with a positive attitude. All that’s left is to hold yourself accountable. What do we mean by that? Read on!
Free will and success
One of the great things about college is that you have a lot of freedom and autonomy. You get to choose your classes, your major, and how you spend your time. You can choose not to attend class, or to skip homework. You can choose to spend a ton of time studying and let your social life wither, and you can choose to acknowledge that there is no perfect balance of priorities and that everything involves trade-offs.
But with all that freedom comes responsibility. It’s up to you to show up to class, do the work, and take responsibility for your own learning. Not everything will turn out how you want it, and it is up to you to learn from your mistakes – not just try to undo them. If you slept through an exam and got a 0, that is terrible, but accept that it was your mistake and that accepting that mistake helps you as a person even if it doesn’t change the outcome.
Holding yourself accountable does not mean others must undo your mistakes
Professors get tons of emails from students who seem to believe that if they say (or write) the “magic words” that they made mistakes or screwed up, they are owed a redo. This is so common when it comes to late assignments, missed exams, and even plagiarism. When professors respond with, basically, “OK, thanks for telling me, see you Monday,” or even worse, “Thanks, but there is no make-up exam,” the students often respond with anger and even aggression.
Holding yourself accountable isn’t just a phrase, or a way to escape consequences. It’s a way to understand when you haven’t lived up to your own definition of success (or to others’) and need to move forward. Accountability is for you, not the person who may have authority over you at that time.
Likewise, if you choose to spend time on your social life and not on class, you need to accept that you were following different priorities at that time. That is not a value judgment. Instead, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what your values were and are, and consider whether they might have changed.
Thanks for joining us on this journey. We wish you every success in this academic year and beyond.
Got your own tips for success at college? Leave a comment. And if this guide was helpful to you, please don’t forget to share it on socials.
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