Today we hand over the blog to our guest writer, Kristin Bennighoff, Associate Director of the Honors Program to let her dare you to think bigger:
“You know why? Because I’m a pusher. I PUSH people…and now I’m going to push you because I know you are smarter than this.”
-Ms. Norbury, Mean Girls
One of my students told me I was a pusher, referring to this quote, and she is right. I dare students to think bigger all the time by pushing them. That’s my job: get students to challenge themselves and encourage them to do things above and beyond their expectations.
I do not approve of “easy” schedules: only 4 classes, no Honors sections, no courses on Fridays (or any other day of the week). Life is never just a 4-day week, so you may as well come to terms with that now! I knew a senior in the Class of 2012 who took two 8:00 AM classes in her final semester. Some of her friends called her crazy, but I called her brilliant. Take it easy in your last semester before med school? No way for that student (she won the Warner Award for the outstanding woman in the senior class, by the way).
What makes me happy is seeing a student who is not afraid of what I suggest to them, even if it is a challenging path. When I see potential, I have to let students know that they should think bigger. I need to plant the seeds in their minds so they might take a chance and think of themselves as something MORE.
What are the things that you can do to think bigger? The feasibility of these ideas depends on your year, what you have done so far, your GPA, and your ambitions. These are the bigger things I would encourage students to do when they are sitting in my office:
- Take as many Honors courses as possible.
- Get involved with Undergraduate Research and try for an Honors Degree with Distinction (writing a thesis!).
- Think strategically about what you do with your winter and summer breaks.
- Talk to faculty and form relationships. Faculty know about all kinds of opportunities—research, internships, upcoming speakers, etc. You will need letters of recommendation or references, so these relationships are key.
- Get involved—with the Honors Program as a Fellow (Russell, Writing, Senior), by joining clubs & organizations, starting your OWN club or organization, participating in student government, becoming a Blue Hen Ambassador, and so on…
- Think about how you can make an impact on your community, your country, and/or the world.
- Add another major, degree, or minor. Take another foreign language. Take a graduate level course. Explore a new subject/course just for the sake of learning. (If you have space in your schedule)
- For students with GPAs of 3.7 and above, look at the Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman scholarships. Yes, you must have leadership activities, great relationships with recommenders, and big dreams, but you can’t win one of these if you don’t apply. Think about other national and international scholarships: the Fulbright, Goldwater, Udall, and Mitchell. Our students have been competitive for these awards and have WON! This spring alone we have a Truman, Fulbright, and 2 Goldwater winners. These prestigious awards could be within YOUR reach.
- Network: Talk to faculty, staff, alumni, other students. You never know what can come of these conversations!
- Read/Explore: Watch or read the news and understand what is going on in our country and around the world. Read scholarly articles in your major or written by your professors. Read good books and attend campus lectures with outside speakers (especially ones sponsored by the Honors Program!).
So, now it’s up to you! This is your education and your decision. Will you take it to the next level? I can only push so much. You have to make the choice to push yourself.