How the Olympic Games relate to college

Augustana has a recommended list of courses students should take in high school to prepare for college.  With the possible

exception of our foreign language recommendation, most of these classes are required to graduate from high school.

However, every year I have students talk to me about their senior year course work.  Typically students fall into three categories:
1. I’m going to take a “blow off” year.
2. Whatever they sign me up for I’ll take.
3. I’m going to pretty much kill myself by taking the hardest classes I can.

As I’ve been watching the Olympics and interviewing students as they prepare for their senior year, I’m finding some similarities between world champions and the students I believe will be successful.

Obviously, not training for a year prior to the Olympics – or training a minimal amount – doesn’t bode well for success at the games in the same way a “blow off” year

or taking the least amount of classes and a lot of study halls senior year doesn’t bode well for success in college.  Muscles aren’t used to the competition in the same way taking a viagra tablets year off from challenging coursework can allow a student to get out of practice with being a good student.

Not caring – just taking whatever is suggested without being invested – well, that can have drawbacks too, because “heart” and mental engagement are half the battle to success.   This quote says it best:
If you could have the arms of Hercules, legs as swift as the wind, if you could leap shoulder high above the rim, have all the kick of a dolphin, the reflexes of a cat, if you could have all this, you would have the body, you would have the tools, but you will not have greatness until you understand that the strongest muscle is the heart.

So, without focus and engagement – success may be elusive even if you have the ability.

I also believe that athletes can over train. And students can over commit themselves to high level classes. There is something to be said for pushing beyond the limit, for reaching for goals, for strengthening and flexing muscles and aptitudes to the very edge – but there should be a balance.  If students are too overwhelmed and unable to balance the extra with the academic – there is often a cost.  Over trained athletes often pay these costs as well – with torn hamstrings, exhaustion, or just a lack of enjoyment when(if) the victory actually comes.

The best students, like the best Olympic athletes learn to balance the challenge, the drive, and the passion with a rest day, a recognition of what is really necessary to be successful and a commitment to self over the goal.  With this balance, success will likely follow because it’s core strength (athletic pun intended) that often makes the difference.  Knowing yourself, your abilities and taking those to the next level without breaking almost always fosters greatness.

About meghancooley

Meghan Cooley has worked in admissions for over 15 years. She's served in a variety of roles, ranging from tour guide to admissions counselor to her most recent position as Director of Admissions and Recruitment. Through many admissions cycles - she's experienced the ebb and flow of the higher education landscape in the Midwest, become an expert on family dynamics within the college search, guided many through the details of the college search and witnessed the joy and disappointment of student college decisions.

Now, as the Director of Recruitment Communication and Manager of social media at Augustana College, Meghan and her team of talented students focus on marketing Augustana to prospective families, educating families about the college search process, and enhancing professional development opportunities in the profession. She is passionate about increasing diversity (socio-economic and ethnic) in private higher education, alleviating the fears and frustrations that often come with a college search (especially in first generation families), and above all, helping students find the best fit for them as they explore all the educational opportunities available.

Meghan often invites guest bloggers mostly including Augustana admissions staff and current students to contribute. The talented students and staff offer a perspective in the trenches of the college search and college experience.

A 1999 graduate of Augustana College, Meghan holds Bachelor's Degrees in English and Spanish. An avid international traveler, she recommends hiking the Inca Trail to Manchu Picchu in Peru, eating Gelato in Rome, Italy, and seeing an opera at the Volksoper in Vienna, Austria. She is married to Augustana graduate and Modern Woodmen project manager, Luke Cooley. They have three sons, Charles, Oliver and Bennett.

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