Make College Work for You


What College Students and New Employees Need to Learn: Rule #1 Daily Habits of Choice

By Professor Brill de Ramírez, author of Make College Work for You

I am convinced that most people want to help make the world a better place. Most people really do want to do good things and to contribute to “the progress of the world, the development of nations, and the tranquility of all peoples.” To do so, it is crucial that each person work to achieve their own progress, development, and tranquility in order to do this for others.

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.” Thomas Jefferson

Today’s students need to learn that, as Jefferson reminds us, happiness comes from a sense of contentment (tranquilty) combined with effort and hard work (occupation). College offers every student (whether young or nontraditional) and the workplace offer every employee many opportunities to develop and practice the very skills, habits, and attitudes that contribute to success in the workplace:

  • Wellness: Achieve health and well-being through discipline, balance, and moderation.
  • Fitness & Fun: Maintain physical and psychological fitness for wellness and energy.
  • Grit: Respond with “grit” and courage to stress and the challenges that you will face.
  • “Can-Do" Attitude: Ensure college success by means of a victorious and “can-do” attitude.

Let’s break these down a bit into doable components to see the core requisites for the success and happiness that Thomas Jefferson advises for us all.


3 Key Elements for Health and Well-being

  1. Discipline: Develop your capacity to take charge of what you do. As human beings, we have the capacity of mind to direct our energies, our efforts, our choices. As college students, there are multiple and diverse classes, activities, organizations, teams, projects for practicing, modeling, and experimenting with what one does and how one spends one’s time.
  2. Balance: Develop your capacity to negotiate, evaluate, and prioritize your activities to meet your desired accomplishment goals. Like a scale, this means evaluating what you do with your time and how your hours and days and weeks and years are organized and scheduled. In this way, you will be developing the skills that focus and fill your time in strategic directions.
  3. Moderation: Follow Aristotle’s oft-quoted advice of “moderation in all things” so that no activity gets in the way of others that are also important. Moderation means making choices about how much time to allot to a particular activity. It also means deciding which activities are best to be minimized or altogether avoided.

What is most important for college students to learn is that they have a great deal of power in determining their success in college, and it is really as simple as the small choices that are made on an everyday basis:

  • What do I want to do? 
  • What would be best for me to do?
  • What do I need to do?
  • And how can I bring all three of these together for success and satisfaction?

Say that a student wants to spend time with friends, but there is a project or reading that needs to be done. Some friends are going to a party. Another friend has decided to stay back to study. Is the choice as either-or as deciding to go to the party or staying home to study? What other option presents itself here? The student could arrange with the friend who plans to study to go somewhere to study for a few hours and then, perhaps, join the others at the party. This is the type of situation where executive decision-making can make the difference for a student wanting to succeed.

Have a Victorious Attitude

To be successful in college and in your future life, it is important to have a “CAN DO” attitude. It is  important for students to look at themselves and make the choices necessary to go forward in good ways towards success.

Look at yourself, at your college and future plans, and at the various aspects of your everyday life with a positive and hopeful attitude. And then you will see that much that is negative in your life can be overcome by the positives that you bring into your life.

In my new book, Make College Work for You (Pearson 2015), you can find hands-on worksheets that will help students (and also graduates and employees) begin to develop more victorious attitudes, strategic decision-making for positive daily choices, and practice for effective actions. In this way, victories and accomplishments are acknowledged, celebrated, and built upon for continued hard work and satisfaction that lead to the occupation and tranquility that Thomas Jefferson spoke about.

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