There's a lot to be said about the start of a new term. Brand new classes. Some brand new professors. Brand new classmates. Brand new chance to succeed.
It's a chance to put the shortcomings and the trials of the last term behind us and start fresh. We tell ourselves, "I can stay on top of the work this term! I'm not going to turn anything in late! I'm going to write that paper before the night before it's due!"
While these are all admirable intentions, let's be honest here: how often does the term actually turn out like you had hoped? I know for me, each term just somehow ends up looking like the one before it.
There's a popular saying, "Set yourself up for success." Cheesy as it is, there's a lot of merit in the idea. If my goal is to get all of my work done on time, am I setting myself up for success by saving up all my work that's due on Wednesday, for Tuesday night? Am I giving myself the best opportunity to do well? No, not at all.
The book of Proverbs is all about gaining wisdom. As college students, isn't that what we're after? Knowledge and wisdom?
Proverbs consistently suggests that the best way to gain wisdom is to position yourself in such a way that wisdom is a natural outcome. For example, Proverbs 4:14-15 (NIV) instructs, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way."
If you don't place yourself on the path of the wicked, it makes it more difficult to follow it. So too, if you go to class and establish a relationship with your classmates and professor, it makes it more difficult to slack off. However, if you don't go to class, it makes it easier to turn assignments in late, if at all.
One of my professors said the only way he got through grad school was by altering his deadlines. Now, he doesn't mean that he asked for extensions on all of his work. Instead, he wrote down all of his deadlines a week before the actual deadline. This gave him the opportunity to revise his work until it was the best possible version. Besides, it's hard to turn something in late if you get it done a week early.
Don't be deceived -- success takes hard work. It doesn't come naturally. It takes careful planning, long nights, and often quite a few tears. But don't be afraid. What good is success unless it was hard-fought?
This term, we all have the opportunity to set ourselves up for success. We all have the opportunity to be prudent and pursue success.
That said, it might be time to log out of Netflix for a bit (don't act like you're immune to the pull of House of Cards, Bloodline, or the endless movies).
This is what the book of Proverbs has to say about prudence:
14:8 - "The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception."
14:15 - "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps."
14:18 - "The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge."
22:3 - "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."