Commiting to your program

Dr. Pauline Reynolds, Chair of the Department of Leadership and Higher Education, talks about committing to your program by working hard and exercising good study habits  

Leading into September is always a great time to reflect about your engagement with school, whether you’re at the beginning of a program or embarking on a new year. One of the things I think about, is that being in college is like having a gym membership. Joining a gym doesn’t instantaneously mean you achieve your health goals. You don’t develop muscle, improve your stamina, or lose weight by getting a membership that only happens if you use your membership by exercising your body. We know that we have to work-out regularly, going just once or every now and again won’t cut it. In the same way, the more you put in to your program, the more you’ll get out of it, the more you’ll learn.


Putting time into academics can be hard. Something that helps is to remember that you are making the choice to engage in a program of study, and to think about that. So, spend some time thinking explicitly about why you chose to embark upon this academic adventure. After thinking about why you’re doing your program, think about what it will mean for you - for your time, for your family, for other choices you’ll need to make.

Realize you may not be able to do things the way you did before the program as you have a new commitment that requires time, energy, and focused attention. Just like you carve out time for the gym, you must carve out time for class, reading, and writing.  Ask your friends and family members to support you.

Commit yourself to your program and be intentional about that commitment. You may find you’ll need to remind yourself about the reasons for your choice every week, or every day, but being intentional about the reason you’re doing your program feeds your on-going motivation to do the things you need to do to be successful in your classes.


One way to get the most out of your program is fairly obvious - make sure you prepare for class. Read and think about required texts before class. Find buddies that you can discuss the readings with either over coffee or social media. And work hard during class; be really present, dust –off your active listening skills, engage with the thoughts of others, and offer your own understandings of the texts considering their significance to your preparation as a teacher, practitioner, leader, counselor, administrator, clinician. Seek support when you need help making good use of advisors, professors, librarians, writing support, and other resources. You chose to be in a graduate program, so be prepared to do what it takes to earn your degree or credential and, most importantly, have a blast doing it.