The Ten Commandments of Success – Advice for Incoming Freshmen

By Alexander Pralea, Editor

As the school year begins and you must adjust from middle-school life, many of you freshmen may be worried about both your academic and extracurricular life at Xavier. To help, I have compiled a list of helpful tricks I have learned thus far in my Xavier career that pertain to general life at Xavier.

I. Choose wisely and not because of a college

Do not be the person who is in 10 ten clubs and not participating in any of them. Generally, participating in so many clubs indicates that an applicant has no particular interests and is thus just trying to please a college. Instead, choose 5 or fewer clubs in which you can assume leadership roles. These clubs should be relatively limited in scope; contrary to popular belief, colleges are looking not for well-rounded candidates but for a well-rounded body of specialized students. Therefore, design your extracurriculars with your career interests in mind but also leave room for some non-academic interests.

The same logic applies to class selection; do not take Latin because you think it will help you with SAT grammar, but because you have an interest to learn more about the syntax and origin of modern languages. Take music not because colleges care whether you are an oboist or a bassoonist, but because you love the rhythm and melody of music.

 II. Everything starts now

Colleges use the freshman year of an applicant as his or her earliest bit of data. This means that all your past mistakes are gone, and your past accomplishments are meaningless. You have a clean slate. Take advantage of it. Become the better son or brother you have always wanted to be and excel both in class and outside it. Start working early on assignments and stop being a procrastinator.

III. School isn’t everything

The importance of school does not outweigh that of one’s family. Do not spend so much time studying so that it impinges on your interactions with your friends and family. School will pass; your family won’t.

IV. Hard work trumps intelligence

What separates the 1st ranked student from the 10th? While nothing is often a suitable response, the correct answer is work, the true indicator of one’s success in high school. Those of you who squeezed by in middle school only on the merit of your intelligence will find yourselves in store for a rude awakening; in high school (and in life), work ethic predicts one’s success far better than raw intelligence. After travailing throughout your high school career, you will have discovered that two hours of homework a night is manageable, especially after you acclimate to your environment at Xavier.

V. Time management is king

As students, you must juggle multiple obligations in and outside school; from music, to homework, family life, and clubs, you may feel swamped with work. Do not despair. You can overcome these obstacles by developing a schedule to which you adhere on a regular basis. For example, I take German outside of school on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:00 pm – 7:45 pm. Therefore, I must complete my homework before German starts. I try to finish as much as I can immediately after school to devote the time after German to studying or relaxing. Doing so helps account for unforeseen obstacles, such as a larger than expected assignment load.

VI. You have no excuses

As amusing as it might be for your colleagues, “my dog ate my homework” is not an acceptable excuse for not doing your homework. Nor is “I forgot”, as you have an agenda to list all your homework assignments. “I didn’t know how to do it” does not suffice either, for, as mentioned earlier, you have a squadron of teachers eagerly waiting for some poor soul to come in for help and save them from the misery of being able to grade their papers quickly and in peace. If you cannot do specific homework assignments for whatever reason, let your teachers know in advance. They are not monsters, and thus, in most cases, will be very amenable.

VII. Your teachers care about you and your well-being

Unlike college professors, Xavier teachers truly care about your well-being, whether it is your mental, physical, or academic well-being. Whenever you have issues, of any kind, you can confide in your teachers. Academic issues are even easier; considering all teachers are required to stay until 3pm by the school, they are very available. Do not feel ashamed to go for help; Mr. Traceski once told my freshman geometry class that one of the few to obtain an A+ in his class had gone for extra help every single day.

VIII. Take advantage of every moment

Some argue that you shouldn’t watch Netflix, but I would argue that it is a productive and helpful method of recalibrating – but after a week of school. Do not waste all your free time on Netflix. Rather, read a book, like Carl Zimmer’s She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, not out of obligation but for fun. Do you not remember what permutations and combinations are? Look them up on Khan Academy. What are the modal verbs? Look them up on Wikipedia. Whether you’re learning a new language or learning the difference between whom and who, learn out of desire. Develop a love for education and not a 4.33. In the long run, the lessons you learn as a high school student stick to you. The grade doesn’t.

IX. Care about what others think

One of the most common platitudes that is circulated is that one should not care about what others think. You should. You have been alive for between 13 and 15 years. Do you think you know better than your parents, teachers, advisers, and other mentors or guardians? Instead of thinking you can handle everything without their guidance, turn to them, for often they can see what you are oblivious to.

X. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction

It turns out that Sir Isaac Newton, the famous physicist and father of Calculus, was right when he developed the third law of motion, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Though referring to mechanics, Newton’s law can be applied to every aspect of life. Every mistake, though a learning opportunity, has major consequences that equal the weight of the malfeasance. Don’t make stupid decisions without premediating them.

By now you are most likely feeling sapped of the energy you had before reading this article. If you are, you can feel rejuvenated by the fact that you have augmented your knowledge and fulfilled Commandment 8, taking advantage of your time by learning. Though my tips may seem trivial, I can confirm that they are not, but rather they are the dogma of the religion of success.