Michael Askew knows first-hand that “successful people do not experience success by mistake; they strategically prepare their mind for the next level.”
Despite the trouble Askew had transitioning from high school to college, he graduated from North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University in 2009 with a degree in business management.
Askew is now a motivational speaker and author. He talks with middle schoolers, teens and adults about transitions. He doesn’t want them to make the same mistakes he made.
In Askew’s book, “Knowledge Is the New Money: Making the Transition from High School to College” he shares tips on how to prepare for the next level. Here are a few suggestions he has for college students:
1. Prepare your mind for college. Askew went to college because that’s what his friends were doing. He believes he struggled his first two years because he wasn’t prepared mentally to attend school. He didn’t understand that what he did as a freshman could impact how a future employer might view him. Askew recommends creating goals and plan of an action to achieve those goals over the next four years.
2. Find a mentor or accountability partner. Askew feels strongly that learning through a mentor is key to college success. It could be a faculty or staff member, or even an upper-class student who is willing to give honest feedback, talk through mistakes and challenges, and point you in the direction of appropriate resources.
3. Start off strong as a freshman and sophomore. Many people believe that you can ease into college the first two years and then make up for any bad grades in the last two years. Askew learned the hard way. He had failing grades his sophomore year. It was a hard climb out of a low grade-point average, and he almost lost his financial aid. A college counselor helped him develop a plan to get back on track.
4. Plan for internships. Work experience puts you ahead of everyone else when it comes to finding a job after graduation. Askew suggests interning three of the four years in college because it sets you apart from everyone else interviewing.
5. Pay for tuition while in college. Askew realizes that this is an unusual tip, but he says it can be done. A payment plan can be set up for as little as $5 a week toward your tuition. “Every dollar paid is one less you have to pay back when you get out of college,” Askew said. He suggests a part-time job on campus or a student business (just be sure to check the school’s regulations about on-campus businesses.)
6. Don’t wait to contact career services. “Everyone in Career Services should know you by your first name,” Askew said. Early in your school career, attend the workshops and career fairs, apply for the internships and make it known that you want a job after you graduate. When a company asks for a qualified candidate, you want your name to be the first on the list. Remember that you are not just competing with your fellow students, you’re competing nationally and sometimes internationally for a position.
7. Focus on your career. It can be easy to lose your way. Family pressure, relationship issues and other interests can pull you away from the task at hand or even influence a decision about the right school to attend. Choose your path based on your needs and future goals.
Vanessa Infanzon is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. In her former life, she worked in Student Life at Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Queens University of Charlotte. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @morethanVMI