by Laura Conley
Have you ever gone bowling, played golf or tennis? If so, you’re familiar with follow-through. Even if you’ve never participated in athletics, I bet you’ve been a spectator, whether in the stands or in front of a television. Somewhere, a commentator or coach has expressed the opinion that follow-through is the single most important element in any sport or game. With the proper stance and swing, the ball will go where you want it to every time. I have never played tennis or golf, but I have played LOTS of basketball and I wish I had a dollar for every time I took a shot and someone yelled at me, “FOLLOW THROUGH, it’s all in your wrist.” When I paid attention to the finesse, or follow-through, my shot percentage was much higher.
This metaphor also applies to education. When you applied to The University of Akron, you had to follow the application with other documents in order to be admitted. At orientation, you were instructed to perform certain tasks prior to beginning as a student, like checking your email, financial aid, and following up on any specific instructions you were given. In other words, you were given things to do in order to get started. If you followed through, you had a smooth start. If you didn’t, money was delayed or you didn’t get the classes you needed at the time you needed them. It’s all about the follow-up.
Congratulations! You are reading this, so you must have followed through. However, remember that certain pieces of your initial enrollment process must be REPEATED semester to semester or year to year. For example, each semester you must choose classes and register at the appropriate time. If you forget, you will not get the classes you need when you need them. Remember too, financial aid must be requested EACH year with the best time to apply being JANUARY. Those who apply early get the best possible grant opportunities, forget to follow through and you get what’s left.
Follow-through is even more critical in the classroom. Each class gives you a syllabus or roadmap for the semester. This syllabus is a CONTRACT between you and the instructor teaching the class. It is YOUR responsibility to read it, ask questions if you don’t understand something in it and to remember when assignments are due and when to take tests. With adult and veteran students, this is sometimes difficult to do on a consistent basis because of all the other issues vying for your attention. However, it is CRITICAL that this follow up happen constantly. Your academic career depends on it. Another word for consistent follow-through is habit. If you form this habit, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, the knowledge and grades will come; which leads to my last point. Follow through on all your hard work. LOOK for scholarships which fit your major or your demographic. Follow up by researching the organization and attending to the criteria and instructions. FOLLOW THROUGH on all the details. If it says a 300-word essay on a particular subject, do 300 words not 450 on the exact topic requested. FOLLOW THROUGH on whether your materials have been received. Life happens. Materials get lost, misplaced. Check to make sure your documents arrive as they need to and pay attention to deadlines. If it says 5 p.m. on a given date, get it in well before the deadline. You will not be considered otherwise and all that hard work will be for naught.
Follow-through is especially important as you approach graduation. Let’s project out. You are almost there. The end, or should I say the beginning is in sight and that is exciting. Follow through with the Career Center. Get your resume tweaked; attend the career fairs, information sessions and etiquette luncheons to put yourself in the best possible light. Do mock interviews, internships, co-ops, whatever it takes to place you above your competition. Then, after that best interview you’ve ever had, remember to follow through with a thank you note, reminding the interviewer who you are and how much you enjoyed meeting with them and one more thing. FOLLOW THROUGH and remember to ASK for the job.
Good luck and let UA Adult Focus know how we can assist you with your educational goals.