The keys to school success

Faculty and students share key advice to thriving at Ferris

Whether you’re a brand new freshman or have been in college for a while, a little advice can go a long way. To help Ferris students get back into (or start) college life, a few Ferris professors and students shared what they’ve discovered about creating a successful Ferris experience—both academically and socially.

“Live by the motto, ‘Work hard, play hard,’” biology professor Bradley Isler said. “Relaxation is far more fun when you know your classes are going well. At the same time, academic success is far more fulfilling when you have some fun once in a while.”

Nuclear medicine senior Lynzie Wagoner says to find a group of friends who have similar academic goals.

“When things get tough they are the people who encourage you to keep working hard,” Wagoner said. “You all work together, complain about difficult assignments, but in the end, you can all pull together and survive until the next crazy hard exam or assignment.”

Even though students may not feel like adults, composition professor John Cullen says to remember that we will be treated as one.

“In college, you will be treated as an adult who has made decisions, not as a child who needs to be given grace periods and extra understanding,” Cullen said. “Your college teacher will help you out, but unlike the best high school teachers, he or she is not a cheerleader or your mother.”

Will Gasper, who retired last week after teaching at Ferris for 15 years, encourages students to seek out help when they need it.

“Often students believe that they are the only ones who are struggling in these areas, but it’s actually more common than most students think,” Gasper said. “Not dealing with anxiety and depression often leads to a downward spiral where students fall behind and do poorly in their classes, so getting help as soon as possible can really make a difference.”

Brooke Moore, who has been teaching at Ferris since 2006, also said that asking for help is critical to success.

“I always tell students, ‘Don’t wait to ask for help until the situation is critical,’” Moore said. “Students need to know that those who are successful ask for help. Many students ask for help too late. If students get out in front of the problem, we as instructors are often better able to assist.”

And instructors do want to assist, according to Isler.

“When a student is motivated enough to come talk to a professor, that is a sign to the professor that the student actually cares about the class, no matter their performance in the course,” Isler said.

It’s challenging to have good class attendance, but from a professor’s standpoint, Isler said it’s a large indicator of academic success.

“Come to class,” Isler said. “Would you buy a new laptop computer and immediately throw it in the garbage? I doubt it. That is essentially what you are doing if you pay for a course then quit attending.”

Optometry senior Kevin Leahy recommends not just going to class, but making sure to put in the necessary extra work to grasp concepts.

“In college courses, more often than not, the course is largely based off of tests and labs, with no homework to prepare for the tests at all,” Leahy said. “It seemed sweet at first but it didn’t take long for me to realize that you need to, in a way, assign yourself homework and guidelines to really learn the material and do well in class. Most of the time just going to a lecture isn’t enough!”

And, when you are in class, get off your phone participate. Professors notice when students are scrolling through Twitter the whole hour, and they don’t appreciate it.

“I am old, so I want them to turn off their darn cellphones and at least pretend to be interested in class,” Cullen said. “It would be a real learning experience if some of these people came in for help and I kept stopping to check my phone or send a text while they were struggling with finding a topic or learning how to avoid dangling modifiers.”

Also, being an open-minded student is key to growth and knowledge.

“Grumpy students that say things like, ‘I don’t know why I have to learn this, this course has nothing to do with my degree’ for an entire semester are not too fun to have in class,” said Isler. “Opening your mind to new areas and understanding how courses are interrelated is in important part of college.”