Sunday, September 14, 2014

"I Choose to Excel" (A Message to Alfred State's Business Major Scholars)

For our Business Major Scholars …

I could walk around campus with earphones in, never smiling and never greeting any others. Or I could put a smile on my face, greet most who pass me by with a “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” or “How are you doing,” or – simply - “Hello.” I choose to excel.

I could not read the assigned material before each class, hoping that I will skate by just by listening to the professor and cramming before exams. Or I could read the text, answer sample questions, be prepared to participate in class discussions, and do well on all quizzes and exams. I choose to excel.

I could wait until the last possible moment to begin working on assignments. Or I could try to complete each assignment well in advance of the due date, even shortly after it is assigned, knowing that my ever-increasing self-discipline and self-control will serve me well in the real world. I choose to excel.

I could stay up late most nights, get a few hours of sleep, and arrive at class drowsy. Or I could get my 9 hours 15 minutes sleep (more or less, depending on individual needs), go to my classes and activities refreshed, and be more productive throughout the day. I choose to excel.

I could saunter about campus slowly, shuffling my feet, and generally try to look “cool.” Or I could walk tall, with good posture, at a good pace, and look to others as if I have a purpose. I choose to excel.

I could hold a grudge, and possess anger toward someone who did me wrong. Or I could write a letter to them exonerating them for their past actions toward me (regardless of whether or not the letter is delivered), free myself from any antagonism or resentment, and forgive and forget. I choose to excel.

I could write my required essays completely on my own. Or I could have a friend read my essay, travel to the Writing Center to have my essay reviewed and learn new tips on writing, and submit an even better essay with the likelihood of receiving a better grade. I choose to excel.

I could hang out with “friends” who study far too less and party, play video games, or watch t.v. far too much. Or I could realize that it is inevitable that if I hang out with those who choose not to excel, I will become like them. I could look for new friends, knowing that I am likely to become as successful (both in terms of personal relationships, and in terms of salary and wealth) as the average of my five closest friends. I choose to excel.

I could use my introversion as an excuse, by never asking questions in class nor engaging in class participation, hiding in the corner at the few parties I am dragged to attend, not joining any clubs or organizations, and not attending any on-campus events. Or I could realize that my introversion is a strength, as it permits me to perceive the world in a contemplative, reflective manner. And I could realize that I cannot use my introversion as an excuse – ever. I could also realize that most students, at some time, are scared of the challenge posed by the second greatest fear in life – meeting someone new. Hence, I could choose to gradually, incrementally push myself out of my comfort zone by doing one thing each day that scares me. I could choose to say “Yes” instead of “No” when asked to join in an activity. In so doing I will choose to make my life far richer and far more meaningful. I could choose to sit down with a student who is eating alone in the dining hall, asking the other student questions about their major, their life, and what they like about the college. In so doing, I could choose to possibly expand upon my number of friends. I choose to excel.

I could choose to abide by others’ expectations and judgments of me, living my life wondering if I am doing what is “acceptable” or “safe.” I could choose to always worry about how I look, how I talk, whether my make-up is well-applied, or whether I am always correct when I speak up in class or in a social situation. Or, I could realize that no one can put me down if I don’t let them. I could ask questions of my professors when I don't know the answer. I could live my life without fear of what others might say about me, enjoy each day in the manner I choose, and ignore put-downs by those whose worlds are so small that they must seek to often criticize others. I choose to live my life large. I choose to excel.

I could wait until my final semester to begin search for a job. Or, beginning in my second semester at college. I could make a list of all my contacts (including those who might be able to introduce me to employers in my field), attend the Alfred State Career Fairs each semester, undertake practice interviews, update and revise my résumé each semester, join and participate in clubs and organizations to enhance my attractiveness to employers, attend industry organization conferences and luncheons to network, and reach out to potential employers to “interview” them about their story, their successes and challenges, and seeking out career paths. I choose to excel.

I could blame others – my professors, my parents, my need to work to support myself, and/or my circumstances – for performing poorly in my classes. Or I could realize that I am responsible for my own success – no one else – and I could take charge of my own life. I choose to excel.

I could choose to go through life in a haphazard fashion, with big goals which always seem distant. Or I could choose to adopt S.M.A.R.T. goals every semester (or every few months), refer to them often, and undertake those actions which lead me toward their accomplishment. I could choose to live my life by design, not by default. I choose to excel.

I could choose to never be mindful of the world around me, forging through life always wondering why this did not occur or that did not happen, with little appreciation for the earth, its beauty, and the joys other people bring to my life. Or I could choose to treasure each and every day, expressing gratitude for little things such as the breath I take, a cool breeze, and a sunbeam on my face. I could choose to be thankful for the larger things such as the love of my family and friends; I could choose to let them know – simply by telling them that I love them and I appreciate them and all they do for me. I choose to excel.

Here are my 12 Key Tips for Success in College
Adopt a mindset of continual self-improvement and personal growth.
Obtain 9 hours 15 minutes (on average) of sleep to become more productive and to increase your capacity to learn.
When obstacles are presented, use your grit to persevere. Accept personal responsibility for your own success.
Possess S.M.A.R.T. goals – and review them daily.
Don’t let others’ views – or your own limiting views – define your own future.
Don’t lie down with dogs. Choose friends who also desire to be successful, and who work hard to be such!
Ooze confidence! (If you lack confidence, fake it until you become it! It works!)
Epand your “comfort zone” – do one thing each day that scares you!
Choose to want to succeed as much as you want to breathe.
Live one day at a time. Be thankful that each day brings forth a new opportunity.
Express gratitude to others, always.
Practice kindness, compassion, and empathy.

Challenge yourself to become a better person – and student – each and every day.
Thank you!
Professor Ron Rhoades
If you are feeling overly anxious, perplexed, and don’t know where else to turn, “SEE ‘DA BEAR.” I’m in Room 301 (in the inner office, past the copier), E.J. Brown Hall. If you desire an appointment, please e-mail me at
Thank you.
Professor Rhoades

Ron A. Rhoades, JD, CFP®
Asst. Professor, Business Department
Curriculum Coordinator, Financial Planning Program
Alfred State (SUNY)
10 Upper College Drive
Room 301, E.J. Brown Hall
Alfred, NY 14802
Phone: 607-587-3469

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