Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Successful Intellectual Development In College

*(assignment for BYU Independent Study Course)

I have come to realize that success is most likely achieved when there has been an investment. It has been said: “For anything worth having one must pay the price …” (John Burroughs; I believe that the pursuit of developing my intellect while attending college is worth having and worth paying a price. Overcoming negative characteristics and applying positive values will lead me to success with this endeavor.

Overcoming Discouragement and Fear
Experience reminds me that even though I have a plan, it will not always be smooth sailing. I recognize in myself one huge factor that often causes a road block in my pursuits. That road block is discouragement. This negative nuisance bears its ugly head in many ways. Poor diet, lack of exercise and inadequate sleep seem to be a breeding ground for discouragement. The stress of a demanding church calling, needs of a ten-member family, and lack of computer skills, have also proved to be contributors’ to this detrimental state of mind. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf expounds on the dangers of discouragement:

“Occasionally discouragement may sneak into our day; frustration may invite itself into our thinking; doubt might enter about the value of our work. In these moments Satan whispers in our ears that we will never be able to succeed, that the price isn’t worth the effort, and that our small part will never make a difference.”
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning”, April 2006).

Discouragement cannot be taken lightly. It stops progression and sabotages self-esteem. When beginning this course, I was frustrated because of my lack of understanding computer technology. Discouragement set in. As discouragement sowed seeds of doubt I became immobilized, fearful of the computer and fearful of failing. I convinced myself that I could never succeed in BYU Independent Study. Fear replaced function and wrecked havoc on my self-esteem.

As trite as it sounds, it is important to face our fears. I think of my cancer-ridden friend, my unemployed husband, my widowed neighbor; they are all examples of people who have faced their worst fears and have overcome discouragement. My fear is certainly not on the level that they experience, but it still is my fear and it still needs to be faced so I can be successful in my goal of developing my intellect.

Facing fears requires a conscience choice to act rather than to be acted upon (2Ne.2:26). I frequently teach my children the importance of this principle as a child often insists that a sibling “made” them get angry. This principle can be applied to facing our fears. Our fears cannot “make” us act or behave in a certain way. “We are free to choose liberty…or to choose captivity” (2 Ne.2:27). As we exercise our agency in positive, productive ways, “we choose liberty” and overcome our fears.

I put those teachings into practice and tackled my fear of computer technology. I acted and made the choice to enlist the help of my daughter. As I began to feel comfortable with my new understanding and knowledge, I went back to the computer determined to apply what I had learned. Although I experienced set-backs, I found confidence in conquering the smallest of feats which eventually led to bigger successes. My progress in learning basic computer tasks is minimal, but it is no longer a fear; it is a welcomed challenge.

Applying Spirituality and Commitment

President Brigham Young boldly stated:“Brother Maeser, I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God.” (Brigham Young, in Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: Biography (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1928, p.79). If Brother Maeser was not to teach anything without the Spirit of God, perhaps we should not learn anything without the Spirit of God. Spirituality must be a prerequisite to secular learning if we expect the degree of success we hope to obtain in our intellectual development. Pres. Henry B. Eyring clearly recognizes the positive influence of spirituality and its relationship to secular learning.

“It is clear that putting spiritual learning first does not relieve us from learning secular things. On the contrary, it gives our secular learning purpose and motivates us to work harder at it. If we will keep spiritual learning in its proper place, we will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time. We generally know when papers will be due, when tests must be taken, when projects must be completed. And we know when the Sabbath will come. We know when the institute class will be held. We know when the prayers at the beginning of a day and those at the end should come. We know about how long it takes in reading the scriptures before we begin to feel the Holy Spirit. We know about how many hours it takes to prepare and to perform our service in the Church. “When we see life as it really is, we plan for a time and a place for all of those things. There will come crisis when there does not seem to be enough time. There will be many instances when one thing crowds out another. But there should never be a conscious choice to let the spiritual become secondary in our lives. Never. That will lead to tragedy. The tragedy may not be obvious at first, nor may it ever be clear in mortal life. But remember, you are interested in education not for life, but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. In fact, you will work harder at your secular learning than you would without that spiritual vision” (Real-Life Education, New Era, Apr.2009, pp. 2- 8).

My spiritual vision is based on the principles of personal prayers and scripture study. Prayer has become the vehicle to calm my nerves and to give me courage to open my books and turn on the computer. Scripture study has become the vehicle to prepare my mind to receive truth through the workings of the Holy Ghost. Spiritual learning creates the perfect atmosphere for effective secular learning to take place.

Just as applying a spiritual vision is essential for developing our intellect in a college setting, so is the need to just get to work and make things happen. I well remember the fervor of the 1980’s Nike company campaign, “Just Do It”. This catchy phrase seemed to resonate with the consumer so much that the sales soared and pushed this company ahead of its competition. (Mini-case Study:Nike’s “Just Do It” Advertising Campaign; “Just Do It” capitalized on an individual’s desire to be committed no matter what, in this instance, to sports, exercise, and anything else that required a sneaker. When we utilize a “Just Do It” mentality we become an individual who is committed in achieving their goals whatever they may be.

The level of success in our intellectual development is based on the level of our commitment. “The intellectual range of a BYU education is the result of an ambitious commitment to pursue truth” (Aims of BYU Education). Our commitment must be ambitious in order to keep us on track. Because distractions are a constant in life, our commitment will always be challenged. There will always be time constraints, pressing matters, physical ailments, or a myriad of other necessities that require our attention. We must appropriately address these distractions but they need not weaken our commitment to our goal. We reassess, reorganize, return and proceed in our pursuit. Commitment requires action and hard work. Thomas Edison once said: “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Accordingly a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.” If what Thomas Edison said is true, I have a shot at being a genius in my quest to succeed in my college academics.

Overcoming discouragement and fear, while applying spiritual vision and commitment, is a reliable plan in achieving success with any goal. As I apply these concepts to learning at a college level, I see learning as means to greater things. I envision this pursuit not just affecting my intellectual development, but also having great influence on my spiritual, emotional and even physical well-being. Upon reading the Aims of BYU Education, I am enlightened, encouraged, and enlisted; ready to embark upon this adventure and succeed in many aspects of my life.

“Such an education prepares students who can make a difference in the world, who can draw on their academic preparation to participate more effectively in the arenas of daily life. They are parents, Church leaders, citizens, and compassionate human beings who are able to improve the moral, social, and ecological environment in which they and their families live.”
“BYU graduates thus draw on an educated intellect to enhance not only what they know but also what they do and, ultimately, what they are”
(Aims of BYU Education).

Learning is a privilege. It is earned through sacrifice and hard work. It is an investment that is demanding, but always worth it. The process I will follow to gain success in intellectual development will hopefully result in receiving a degree, but it will not be the end. True success in this endeavor takes place when the learning is the means to becoming more.

Observations About the Author

Purpose The purpose for my paper is to convince the reader to take a deeper look
at the price they must pay in order to succeed with their college pursuits; the
degree not being the end, but rather the means of greater things to come. I hope
that the reader is convinced of the fact that their investment needs to be one of overcoming negative characteristics and applying positive values as a means to
help achieve success in intellectual development.

(made by the author about you)
The author assumes that the reader values the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as being sound in their assessments. The author also assumes that the reader understands that personal applicationof gospel principles as evidence of their effectiveness.

Evaluation of the Message

Delivery (Discuss how clear and persuasive the presentation was.)
The presentation was clearly laid out in the first paragraph as to what the author hoped to convey to the readers. Headings are instrumental in the organization of the paper and to keep the reader focused.

Evidence (Analyze the significance and truthfulness of the validations.)
Quotes, Scripture references, and personal experiences all lend to the validity of the author’s claim: “Overcoming negative characteristics and applying positive values leads you to success in pursuit of intellectual development in college academics.”

Conclusions and Inferences (Explain the rationale behind the reason.)
The author infers that introspection is a necessary step in success with education. The author also infers that action supersedes intellect even when pursuing intellectual development. The author wants the reader to acknowledge that there are other factors that must be first addressed if the endeavor is going to be not just degree obtaining, but more importantly, life changing.

Meaning (Relate the message to you or the community.)
The principles taught in this paper can literally apply to any one in any situation. Because we are human beings, subject to short-comings and weaknesses, we should all seek ways to constantly overcome those traits that keep us from reaching our goals. We should constantly be striving to incorporate positive values that help us reach our goals.

Questions Remaining (Identify key issues or points of view not presented.)
Because of the power of change, we are capable of progressing to heights that need not be limited. As we apply positive values to our lives, these values are instrumental in helping us not only conquer our negative characteristics, but successful in spiritual and secular learning as well. Changing who we are, leads us to become individuals who are capable of changing our world.

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