The Three D’s

Today students got an email regarding the housing selection process for the next academic year. You can read it here.

I get headlines every day from The Chronicle of Higher Education, which is one of the best-known sources for writing about all things higher ed. There was an editorial a couple of weeks ago by Rachel Toor called “10 Tips to Help You Win at Graduate School” – and since I’m in grad school right now, this seemed like something good to read.

One of the tips was this – and I would argue it is applicable at the undergrad level as much as in grad school:

“Embrace the three D’s. In a previous life, when I worked in college admissions reading application files, I shuddered to get letters of recommendation that stressed the three Ds: dedicated, determined, diligent. Those qualities were, I thought then, necessary but not sufficient to grant admission to a top university. They tended to be the hallmarks of plodding, unexciting applicants.

As a professor, I’ve come to see that the plodders get stuff done. Often they show more growth than flashier peers who have cruised by on talent. Now I appreciate the ants, and find myself annoyed by those who believe themselves grasshoppers. If you spend your summers playing while less-glamorous peers toil away, you may find yourself hungry and desperate when winter comes. Keep plodding, friends, all the way to success.”

You can [perhaps] read the whole article here (it may be subscription only, not sure).

There is a lotta, lotta wisdom in this author’s advice. As an academic adviser, I have seen many students come through Wake. All of them are smart, talented, and deserving in their own right. But some of the best students I have seen are those who are incredibly disciplined about their work, not necessarily those with the most APs or the highest SATs.

Here are some ways I think students can demonstrate the three D’s:

Dedicated – students are committed to school as their first priority. They give all they have to each class. They show up prepared, having read the material, are ready to work, etc.

Determined – students find ways to push past discomfort and master course material even when it is hard. Perhaps there is a subject that is really not in their sweet spot, but instead of just throwing up their hands and doing what they need to do to just to pass, they dig deep and find additional help (study groups, Learning Assistance Center tutor, going to office hours) so they truly understand what they are supposed to learn.

Diligent – students have a plan to accomplish all their work/projects/studying and stay on task until they get the job done. Even if that means forgoing something fun.

In college, 80% of success isn’t just in showing up. It is showing up prepared. Showing you are willing to go the extra mile. Showing you are able to wrestle with subjects and get frustrated, but not give up. Showing you have good habits and discipline.

And it is never too late to hone the three D’s.

Hope you have a great weekend, Daily Deacdom. Give your kids a call this afternoon and have a nice long chat. And always, always tell them you love them 🙂


— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94


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