“Prepping” for College? You Bet!

One of our nephews is off to college now up in Tyler, Texas, where he’s hoping to do well in his chosen physical trainer program.

Before he took off, we spent a little time a couple of weeks back and I helped him with some of the mental “prepping” for school that most people don’t put enough emphasis on.

Having been a post-secondary college director, I totally grok the whole “readiness to engage” that is talked about endlessly. Bu,t what doesn’t get conveyed to today’s young people are some of the “blocking and tackling” concepts that WILL make a difference as life unfolds – whether you end up at the top of the food chain, or at the bottom.

If you know a young person going to college this year, here’s our  “shopping list” for college success.

Secrets to Education Success

Doing well in school does not require a lot of effort.  It does require that you learn to think differently.  I went from a “never opened a book” 2.7 GPA in high school, to a 3.85 undergad and a 4.0 in grad school by mastering some simple concepts.

Get the Body Ready to Learn

There is a whole science of “optimizing your life” that schools are not covering.  In my view, it should be a degree-length program.  People, companies, even governments need it.  If you’re going to succeed in school, you need to be at least somewhat physically optimized.  Which means?

  • You need adequate rest.  If you ever feel unprepared to totally ace a test, there’s only one person to blame:  the idiot in the mirror.  Hold them accountable.
  • Focus on Core Nutrition.  You need AT LEAST the R.D.A. vitamins.  But, you will find some vitamins will improve how you feel a lot.  For me?  Huperzine-A is almost like the pill in the TV show Limitless.  NZT, anyone?
  • Carbs and Brains Don’t Mix:  Experiment with yourself a bit, but in general, the Ure Family prescription for high-performance testing involves 8-hours of sound sleep, steak and eggs for breakfast and one solid cup of coffee – with no sugar.  Carbs – the toast, the eggs, the fruits…all that stuff raises the blood sugar to serotonin level.  You want to be mentally hungry and a cream cheese Danish or ANY sugar of high fructose corn syrup will screw up “lean and mean” thinking.
  • Exercise.  You need to push the body into delivering those wonder ‘morphins’ by getting on a treadmill or walking a mile or more per day.  That gliding feeling you get when walking after being on a treadmill for 20 minutes is magical at the body-chemistry level.
  • Limit Alcohol/Drugs:  Sure, you will be exposed to both.  A toke or two – when the studying is done, not before – may not impact, except in a dorm in a state school where de ganj is illegal.  Then, it can get you kicked out of school.  Danger with booze, too:  Two beers, two drinks, two glasses of one – any of the three.  Don’t mix grain and grape or drink anything with high sugar content.  That – and certain congeners in booze is like sending out for a hangover.

Train Your Brain to Learn

Here’s just a few highlights of what I laid in detail in my book “The Millennial’s Missing Manual: What School Didn’t Teach and What Old People Didn’t Explain…”

  • Everything is a Process:  Humans are creatures of “trial and error.”  When we do something – and it works – we codify it as a workable behavior and that’s the basis of all knowledge.  Want to be a doctor?  There’s a process others have walked to get there.  Want to be a lawyer?  There’s a process – and part of the process is a course of study to pass a bar exam.  Airline pilot?  Again, processes…lots and lots of processes.  Process to preflight and airplane.  Process to work the radios.  Process to “get coordinated at the controls” – Process for slow flight, process for landing gear, process for prop and engine leaning at altitude…gobs and gobs of processes…It seems overwhelming but it’s MANAGEABLE.
  • Checklists and Recipes:  If you get nothing else from this article:  There’s a checklist or “recipe” to everything in life!   Want to date a cheer-leader?  There’s a process.  Want to have teacher’s love anything you do?  There’s a process.  Want to be valedictorian?  There’s a process….  process, process, process – beat that into your head for life and you win.  Without it, you’re just another sheep.
  • Give Yourself Permission to be Great:  Most people going to college today have an uphill fighting going against them.  No one has mentioned that “Oh, yeah, everything is about recipes and checklists…”  So the education you pay top dollar for may be poorly organized.  It is not going to be put toether in simple:  “There are XX checklists – skills – to flying an airplane.  Here’s the list of things and how it fits…”  Instead, you’ll get an unholy mishmash of crap designed to fill up clock-hours and keep butts in chairs for 50-minute “clock-hours.”
  • Most Checklists and Recipes can be Learned in 5-minutes.  I don’t care if it’s celestial navigation or figuring the ballistics of a 1800 FPS 110 grain FMJ bullet with an xxx grain load of ABC brand powder at 100-yards… there’s a damn recipe and it doesn’t take an 50-minutes to do!  Hit Google, find calculators, get answers and move on.  Recipes, recipes!
  • But You Have to Play-the-Game:  Teachers need to be “worked.”  A short course on NLP (neu7ro-linguistic programming) can be useful.  But, more than anything, look the part of the good student – NOT the BAD one – and you will be working the “grade curve” to your advantage.
  • Look Like What You’re Training For:  If you want to work with the public?  Look like someone who is “ready to go to work right now.”  If you’re not sure how such people dress?  Go to the professional setting where you might be employed and look at people who have your job title today.  How are they dressed?  How dp they act?  How is their hair?  What’s their demeanor?  What are the “signs of the trade?”

I had this conversation with my son, who’s about to go back into the workforce after getting through his 700th jump as a commercial skydiver.  “Dad, I am so ‘patient-ready’ it’s ridiculous…”  Scrubs, stethoscope, latest iPhone…yep, looks like a medical geek of some kind – and now the low-end one.

The Big Secrets No One Tells

Clea up your social profiles.  Don’t have “casual friends” on LinkedIn – keep that pure work-related.  Scrub Facebook so everyone in your parent’s Church would read it all and not blush.

Why?  Teachers read the social on students and that forms an opinion bias that that don’t want to have to overcome.  Get pre-emptive.  Lead, don’t follow.  No doobie pictures, no dressed up in an inflatable alligator suit drunk…got the picture?

We have a saying in management that “We achieve our goals through the efforts of others.

I was a senior manager for decades.  I never asked anyone to do something I couldn’t do myself.  BUT – and this is key – I didn’t have the time to do it ALL.  So I had to depend on others to carry out plans and actions.


You need to start “collecting people” – right now – first year of college.

Set up Outlook or whatever *(I like the Microsoft PST files because they will likely be around and because they are a standard for Contacts, they will likely migrate to newer technologies as we move into the future.

PUT EVERYONE WORTHWHILE in your Outlook Contacts.

Back Up Everything

There are plenty of online backup systems.  Use one – religiously and daily.  Use a USB thumb-drive if you can, as well…double-redundancy.

There is never an excuse for “losing contacts” -and so, if you asked me, yes I can produce that email from 6-years ago or the contacts from 10-years ago.

You have a whole lifetime ahead.  Collect people.  Think of yourself as the curator in your own Zoo.  Because that’s what life will be like during your life – and the more worker-bees you can arrange when young, the more honey you’ll have when you get older.

Last, but not least, schedule every day.  Listen to motivational tape, run by a calendar, and set an early alarm clock.

Life is either going to happen ON YOU or you can bend things around so Life happens FOR YOU.

Which is why coming up on 70, the first half hour of every day is still figuring out what the key “deal points of the day” are.

I just wish I’d figured it all out 20-years earlier…but you?  You have no excuse now.

Write when you get rich, which can be sooner if you work at it…


15 thoughts on ““Prepping” for College? You Bet!”

  1. Laugh as you may, BUT, I keep a small spiral-bound “mini reporter’s notebook” in my shirt pocket at all times. I say again, ALL times. (…and a kugelschreiber, of course.)

    My memory is only fair even on a good day, so as I think of things I need to do, I make a note. I have a “BUY” page, a “DO” page, a “CALL” page, and pages for other categories. As things get scratched off, I re-write the pages, and rip out the ones with a lot scratched off.

    Yeah, I know… Sounds OCD as hell, but it DOES work.

    • People roll their eyes at me too over my propensity to have pen and paper handy at all times — and Post-It Notes too!

      I learned from my Dad who used, not a notebook, but 3 x 5 cards in his pocket, secured by a rubber band. Now that I have found 3 x 5 cards with gridlines I’m using them a lot also.

      One of my favorite sayings, which I haul out when someone laughs at my notes and Post-Its goes: “The palest ink lasts longer than the longest memory”.

      Another thing, I read Sir Richard Branson’s autobiography. He carries a British school-type notebook everywhere and makes copious notes.

    • OMG… LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL OTFLMAO…. I have carried one of those for years and years decades actually in my pocket LOL LOL it is my list.. I get so many things tossed at me all the time that I list it.. the most urgent items on the list goes to the top.. and each item is checked off as they are finished.. LOL important notes.. my personal tablet LOL LOL
      LOL LOL that is actually what is going out in my christmas cards this year is a personal a desk or pocket notepad…
      LOL LOL LOL..

      • @looking out of the box…
        Those are some good looking, inexpensive, advertising items that might get handed off to the admin who would then have a ready answer for, “Who was that guy that was in here selling ____?”

        I’m probably just talking to the three of us, but if you need quality notebooks to last, not tear out disposable pages, something to last for years — look at the Japanese products by Kokuyo. Twin ring binding and very good paper.

        Also, a fellow has come up with a very good journaling/note taking/organization system: http://www.bulletjournal.com. Many people have spun this off into some really fancy journalling that just does not make any sense to me — more fluff than content — however, the original concept is great.

        This fluff journalling fad has created a large number of good notebook/journal designs available on Amazon. So if you have not changed things up with the way you record info in recent years, you might have a look at some of the new items. (Yes, there are lots of items without Hello Kitty or pink unicorns).

  2. I put myself through college by working. It was terrible. I slept a great average of 3-4 hours a week, never had enough to eat and ate cheap carbs. Still remember the oatmeal 3 times a day for a month because it was $.99 at Aldi’s and I knew I was going to be short that month. The toy backpack I used was nothing but a thin sheet of nylon. I will pat myself on the back–it taught me to be tough. I made fair grades (on the Dean’s list a few times). I wish I hadn’t had to go through school that way, but (at times sorrow, self-pity or anger) I see so many people that expect others to help them out. ALL the time. It is what it is. I guess I try to make my struggle into something meaningful. It would have been nice to go to school this way. I have my stories like my parents had theirs–growing up in the depression.

    • That is exactly why one in five college ladies seek a part time friend that’s willing to help with books tuition etc.

      First great post today and right on target.

      “You need adequate rest. If you ever feel unprepared to totally ace a test, there’s only one person to blame: the idiot in the mirror.”

      When in school they wanted me to stay out late and get drunk lol..seems my having a hangover and tired kept me from over thinking the questions.

      • I’m on campus at least once a week taking advantage of the old folks cheapo credits, even though I already have too many degrees. As George has said, seats are cheap. The problem is that I’ve yet to either find or hookup with those alleged one in five female students looking for the friend willing to help out financially. It doesn’t help that CL took down their personal ads and title 9 makes it dangerous to even talk to a girl.

        I actually tried searching google and other search engines for the recipe on how to score a cheerleader or other desirable and all I got was porn sites and jokes. Perhaps that recipe still exists somewhere…..

        Maybe it’s time to write the “Boomer’s Missing Manual”.

  3. I could not have said this better myself. Your words should be made into pamphlets and given to each and every high school graduate in the country. I had 3 graduate from college and while all are doing well in tech …you mentioned a few items that they could have implemented…The advice you gave here is absolutely perfect.

  4. George – wonderful timely article/discussion as per usual. Social Media impacts on college edumacated students can not be understated. Employers, Grad School Admissions, will all be researching Social for “dirt” on prospects.
    The real “mofo” in all this trouble can any story in a College newspaper publication and or local publications garnered from local police reports, like underage drinking.
    Speaking from experience, it takes some serious work to “undue”/render harmless ANY thing printed on the Internet, no matter how truthful the “news item” might be.
    As you pointed out, it is critical to ones success to “act the part” as they progress thru college.
    I can’t count the number of times my kids have commented on college friends who have No Clue regarding Manners and how to properly hold their silverware when eating “out”. Not mention these kids not having any clue as to how to fix a simple leaky terlet, or rip out moldy and reapply new caulk in student apartments bathrooms.
    Well at least they have all their Participation Trophies from their respective childhoods to consul themselves with… Go Get Em Tigers!

  5. Very good advice!

    Here’s something to add: take an aspirin and a vitamin C an hour before the exam (or job interview!).

    The aspirin helps your comfortable level –feel less stressed. Miracle drug that it is, it also enhances blood flow. Meaning your brain is being better nourished.

    The vitamin C also helps the brain work but does other good things for the body as well.

  6. Lol..yeah I use those as notes to me..I did see a nice spiral write in the rain even..but old habits die hard. Quick note disposable..make a list

  7. I’m in the process of gathering reading gifts for grade schoolers..read one book get you selection of this etc. I love reading so I want grade school kids to get in the habit of reading .for the ultimate I get some android tablets set up for little kids and this year a couple of bikes in between a variety of gifts set towards children. The teachers and principle hand out the slips..there’s about ten of us that donate regularly

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