Today the good folks at Boundless have published an excerpt of Thriving at College. It’s called Living Out of Balance, which is the title of Chapter 7, the chapter from which the excerpt was taken. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:
I had a bright student a few years ago named Mike. An honors student, he was enrolled in one of my classes both for the fall and spring semesters, and I also served as his academic advisor. Mike turned in the first test of my fall class with 25 minutes to spare. While the other students sat there sweating bullets, I flipped through the pages of his test. A quick glance was all I needed to discern that he had scored 100 percent.
Congratulating Mike, I told him the good news the next day. I encouraged him that, if he applied himself, he could be very successful in college. But Mike just smiled, seemingly unmoved. Puzzled, I asked him how long he had studied for the test. He said he hadn’t studied very long at all, that the test had been easy, just like high school.
I suggested that he challenge himself by trying additional problems not required of other students. I assured him that the material would get more difficult and that the next test would probably not come as easily for him. But he remained unmoved. Joking, I apologized for the material being too easy and promised that by the end of the semester, the class would at least keep him awake. Again, no reaction.
Mike seemed totally uninterested. I wanted to get into his head: What did he hope to get out of college? What was he hoping to do when he graduated? It seemed that Mike himself had no idea.
Mike was not without interests in life. I soon found out that he was the reigning video game champ in his dorm and that games and movies typically kept him up for a large part of the night. In October, he had trouble getting to class on time. By November, he would sporadically miss classes entirely, unable to get himself out of bed. Though he started with a high A, he wound up with a B in the fall and a D in the continuation course that spring. By the next year, Mike was on academic probation and on his way out of the engineering program.
Too much play and too little work. Sure, he was bonding with the guys in the dorm and no doubt having the time of his life. But a semester of college cost $10,000 back then, and Mike took five classes per semester, which meant he’d lose $2,000 for every class he had to repeat. Not a wise investment.