Did you know that YOU are the most important piece of your college success?
Your time and experiences at NMSU fit together like a jigsaw puzzle – each piece must be put together with the intention of creating a successful college experience. Here at NMSU we identify the pieces of this puzzle as learning objectives for the Baccalaureate Experience, and we’re here to help you discover those pieces and a vision for your future.
Don’t be the missing piece!
If you’ve ever put together a puzzle, some pieces jump out at you, others you have to search for, and often you’ll find a piece that you don’t think will fit anywhere – but finally it does, and sometimes that piece is the one that completes the puzzle! On the downside, if you’re not paying attention a piece can fall to the floor, get eaten by the dog, or even just ‘go missing’ without you noticing.
Experienced ‘puzzlers’ develop a method or system for completing puzzles. They may select all of the ‘edge’ pieces first, put all the pieces with certain colors or patterns together, or work their way from one side to another. Regardless of their approach, what makes them successful is that they have a plan for how they will complete the puzzle, and they are intentional in making progress. When they’ve completed the puzzle, they experience a feeling of accomplishment, or ‘success’. However, if they get to the end and discover there is a missing piece, the picture is incomplete and they feel disappointed – and if there are multiple pieces missing, it’s even worse!
Employers expect college graduates to demonstrate certain knowledge, abilities, and behaviors (pieces). NMSU’s learning objectives for the baccalaureate experience (your college experience) name these skills and abilities. Each academic program has the pieces and a plan that will help you complete your own “puzzle”. Some pieces you will find through experiences outside of your formal coursework. But while all the pieces are available to you, it’s WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM that matters. Other people can help you find pieces or figure out where they fit, but ONLY YOU can pick them up and put them all together to create a complete picture.
So how can you get started? Ask yourself the following questions, and consider the suggestions that follow. Then talk with a friend, a teacher, a coach, a staff person, an advisor, or an administrator about putting the pieces of your unique puzzle together.
Am I prepared to work in my chosen field? In my dream job?
- Use your academic studies to become the best candidate for entry-level positions in your chosen field. Volunteer to get experience in your field.
Do I take responsibility for my own learning, or do I think it’s my teachers’ responsibility?
- Take charge (be in control) of your own learning – seek out help when you need it. Look for opportunities to ‘become an expert’ in an area of interest. Teach someone else something you know. When you don’t get the grade you want, find out how to ‘do better’ next time. Apply what you learned in one class, to another class.
Do I communicate effectively within my filed of study? Outside of my field of study?
- Learn the language of your field, AND how to communicate broadly – through writing, speech, body language, visuals, etc… and don’t forget, listening is a big part of being an effective communicator.
Do I recognize that my life experiences are unique, and impact how I think about things? Therefore, my ideas, opinions, and perspectives are different from those of other people.
- Get to know yourself, and learn to recognize and acknowledge your own biases as well as those of others. Keep a journal. Discover what makes you ‘tick’. Reflect on events in your life, and situations you’ve been through. Pay attention to how others react to you; how do you react to them?
Do I use technology effectively? Do I know what makes the use of technology ethical or unethical?
- Learn how to use technology for various purposes, and apply ethical standards to those uses (but first, you may have to find out what those standards are!)
Am I able to find information, and then determine whether it is important or reliable?
- Learn not only to find information, but to ask questions about it: Is it important? Is it reliable? What is the source? For what audience was it intended? Does the author have a particular agenda or viewpoint? How do I know?
Do I seek out new experiences and opportunities?
- Try new or unfamiliar things – a different kind of music, a cultural event, a new food. Or get to know someone that’s not like you – talk to someone you wouldn’t usually talk to: Ask them questions, ask their story, ask them “why?” …and listen for the answer.
Am I aware of what goes on around me, in my local community? At a national level? Around the world?
- Find a way to make a positive impact on your local, regional and/or global community. Find out about the plights of people around you, and those far away. Find your voice and use it – for yourself, and maybe for someone else.
Do I analyze and thoughtfully interpret situations so that I can be proactive, or do I just react?
- Be intentional and think critically to solve problems and create solutions – don’t just react to your circumstances.
Is my work uniquely my own? Do I find ways to be creative and original, or do I rely on others for ideas and solutions?
- Create unique work by thinking ‘outside of the box’. Generate new ideas and ways of doing things – by yourself, or with others. Give yourself limitations, and see what you can create out of those limitation (how resourceful can you be?). Learn to do something new.
Am I connected with the NMSU community?
- Connect with other people (students, faculty, staff) who belong to the NMSU community—attend an event, join a club, get to know a faculty or staff member, join a study group, attend a workshop on study skills, note-taking or test-taking, participate in intramural sports, go to an athletic event, listen to a guest speaker, study abroad, do an internship, take a co-op position, attend a concert…. Do something beyond attending class (but do that too!)