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Are You Ready for College? 6 Tips for Success

How many of you are Star Trek fans? As a child of the early sixties, Star Trek was one of the first television series that I watched consistently. For years, Star Trek enthusiasts witnessed Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and other cast members step into a fictional transport machine. After experiencing some type of metabolic change, the individuals were transported through space, and later appeared in a new location. Having majored in chemistry in college, this phenomenon always intrigued me.

Now you are wondering, what does Star Trek have to do with this discussion on leadership? Well, just imagine entering a time machine and returning to your former college campus. For some of you, this may result in your experiencing serious heart palpitations. Relax; remain calm. This is just an example.

However, as a professional today, what leadership tips do you wish every college student knew prior to starting school? Below are six tips that I shared with a group of undergraduate students.

  1. Believe in yourself and your ability to make a positive difference in the world. Despite the economic predictions regarding the job market, college attendance remains a positive and viable experience. Having made the decision to attend college is the first step in which you are transitioning from being a teenager to young adult.
  2. Don’t allow a moment of temporary pleasure lead to a lifetime of regret. For some college students, this may be your first time away from home. However, you are responsible for your actions and decisions. Many people have placed a great amount of trust and confidence in you and your ability to make wise choices. Now, it is up to you to prove them right. Successful leaders learn to make wise decisions.
  3. Seek out sound counsel from people who have your best interest at heart. As a college student, you are going to be bombarded with many things, both positive and negative. Some people will advise you to forego your inhibitions and enjoy your college years. Watch the counsel or advice that you receive. Weigh it with caution because not everybody has your best interest in mind.
  4. Maximize your college education. Enlighten your thinking on a continuous basis. Leaders at all levels understand that you must continue to learn. There is an old funny adage that states, “Get as much as you can, and can as much as you get.” When it comes to learning, make it a priority.
  5. Develop your team building skills. College continues to provide opportunities for students to grow and develop their team building skills. Whether doing research, participating in study groups, or volunteering to lead or support an activity, there are opportunities where you can thrive and excel.
  6. Protect your image. Don’t make the mistake of posting materials on social media that can haunt you in the future. Your college years will go by extremely fast. Things you do in college can affect your ability to get future employment.

In retrospect, I wish someone had shared these tips with me. They are life-changing and will keep you on orbit for success. So, as you begin your college experience, remember that college is more than just fun, it is an educational journey for life.

About the author

Dr. Mary M. Gillam is the owner of Executive Leadership Enterprise & Management Services located in the Washington DC metropolitan area. She is a retired Air Force Colonel and former member of the Senior Executive Service Corps with the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. She is the host of a local television show, Leadership Table Talk, and the inventor of the board game, The Leadership Build Zone. An Amazon #1 best-selling author, she is also the creator of the C.O.R.E Leadership Development Model. Her website is

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