Make friends, find success

Academic Adviser Matt Sprengeler

Guest column written by Academic Adviser Matt Sprengeler

I have a problem. There’s this great piece of advice I want to share. Heck, if you’re a DMACC student, your tuition dollars are already paying me to give you advice like this. And I’ve been doing this for years and years, which means I’m probably pretty good at it.

But here’s the problem — you didn’t ask for it. One thing my job has taught me is that nobody enjoys free advice. You can see the dilemma.

Over here we have the awesome thing that will improve your life, while over there is the fact that you have no reason to want it. My compromise? I’ll only ask you to read these next three words:

Have interesting friends.

That’s it. My best advice for success, absolutely free to you. My experience is that if you have interesting friends — and if you become the kind of person who seeks out interesting friends — it pays off in a thousand little ways.

Let’s start with your classes. We know a lot about what it takes to get good grades. You’ve already heard most of this: go to all of your classes, pay attention to the instructor, do your labs and homework. One thing that gets overlooked, however, is study groups.

If you know interesting people and you study together, you’re likely to get better grades. It’s one of those big secret-but-not-secret things about college. Study groups can really help; the research tells us so. And if you find cool people to study with, you’re more likely to make a habit of it.

Another great thing about interesting friends is how they can lead you into situations you never would have imagined. Looking at my own weird life, I’ve had a lot of cool things happen because of who I knew. I got a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. I was hired to design video games. I won enough money at Las Vegas blackjack to pay my way home. I got jeered out of a bar by a drunk crowd that was 100% not there for my stand-up comedy.

All of these things, and tons more, happened because of the friends around me. You might not want the exact same experiences, but finding the right people will lead you to fascinating places that you’d like to visit. The biggest question is where these people are.

I don’t know the answer. One of the (many) weird things about college is that you have to relearn how to make friends. It’s not like high school or a regular job, where you see the same people all the time. Most DMACC students are in programs that allow them to have flexible class schedules. This is great, but it means you don’t have as many familiar faces in your day.

Luckily, we have an answer to that. DMACC has dozens of student groups to join. Each one is focused on a common interest, which makes them a great way to build your support network. Do you like politics? Are you pursuing a specific career? Want to play ping-pong? Whatever your interest, you can find it through our Student Activities Council. They help students join (or create) groups for their shared enthusiasms.

I’m not suggesting this out of the goodness of my heart, or because Student Activities Director Erin is paying me $50 to say nice things.
If you have interesting friends, my job gets easier. We know that students do better in college if they have a good support network. Anything that gives you a stronger foundation is good for us all. So remember those three words. Have interesting friends. And please reach out to me, or any member of the Student Services staff, anytime you want more free advice.

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