President Norton’s 5 tips to success at SRU

Published by adviser, Date: March 5, 2015

To our new students,

Welcome to the Slippery Rock University family. Whether you are joining us directly from high school or transferring from a community college or four-year institution, you are about to embark on one of the most important journeys of your life – obtaining a Slippery Rock University degree.

Slippery Rock University is very different from any other place at which you may have studied. To take advantage of all that the university has to offer, both in-and-out-of the classroom, you need a game plan.

There will be plenty of opportunities throughout WOW and the first couple of weeks at The ROCK for you to learn what you shouldn’t do… like don’t go home every weekend, or don’t skip class, or don’t eat only tater tots and ice cream (even though both are nice treats every once in awhile.) So, here are some ideas about what you should do formulated into a five-point plan to help you be successful at SRU. 

1. Treat today as the day you begin to build your personal and professional resume.

Regardless of the opportunities you may have had up to this point, SRU is the place to embrace new experiences. We have nearly 200 social, honorary and special-interest clubs for you to explore. Interested in how government works? Then get involved with SGA or RHA. Have a passion for capturing events with words or images? Then get involved with student media. Come from a land-locked area? Try kayaking. The goal here is to take some risks. Not the stupid, reckless risks that can result in injury, or get you sent home, but the type that force you out of your comfort zone and into new opportunities. Doing so demonstrates to future employers your willingness to learn and accept new challenges.

From this day forward, every activity both in-and-out of the classroom should contribute to developing the attributes and skills that will make you a better employee, citizen and/or graduate.

I recognize there are a lot of demands on your time…class, sleeping, studying, sleeping, eating, sleeping, exercising, sleeping, working and sleeping…so you might be wondering how you will find the time to get involved. Believe it not, the best students are those that get involved. Why? Because in order to handle multiple priorities, you have to learn to manage your time. And, time management not only requires practice, but it is a skill that you’ll need for the rest of your life.

2. Be willing to pay the price.

Someone once said to the famous violinist Fritz Kreisler… “I’d give my life to play as beautifully as you do.” To which he replied, “I did.”

Now, you might not know who Kreisler is, but I bet you know many people, men and women, who have had to work hard to be successful. You can be successful at SRU. We wouldn’t have admitted you to the university if we didn’t have confidence in your ability to succeed. But you have to do your part. You have to go to class, study, ask for help if you need it and offer help whenever possible. We can provide all the ingredients for success, but you’re the chef. Your success isn’t on anyone else’s head; it is your responsibility.

3. Learn to get along with others.

Most employers will tell you that people don’t fail because they aren’t smart enough or don’t know how to do their jobs, but because they can’t work with others. It’s our goal, indeed our fervent hope, that while at SRU you’ll be introduced to people who are not like you: people who come from different cultures and ethnic races, people who have different religions and people who have different lifestyles. Each person on this campus adds to the tapestry of our university. Your goal should be to meet as many people as you can who are different from you, to learn about their cultures, hopes and dreams. Will you like everyone you meet? No. But I bet you’ll discover that you will have more in common than what makes you unique. And from that knowledge comes respect, and with respect for one another comes the ability to live, learn and work together.

4. Do the right thing.

To be perfectly honest, by this time in your life you know the difference between right and wrong. When faced with life’s challenges (and you will be) or a roommate’s double dare or peer pressure to act reckless, illegally or stupid, take a minute to think about how your parents, family or real friends are going to feel when they read about it in the newspaper (or online where it will live forever)…and choose to do the right thing. It takes years to build trust and only a few seconds to destroy it. This is especially true for education majors where one bad choice could mean you’ll never be able to earn a teaching credential. Remember, you are known by how you act.

5. Take care of you.

This may be last, but not the least important, point in my plan. You need to take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. A Buddhist saying asks, “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?” Good question. You need to eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and balance class responsibilities with study time and play. Be patient with others and hope they return the same courtesy to you. Set goals. Dream. In fact, dream BIG. You can’t exceed your wildest expectations if don’t have wild expectations. If you start to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. We have people everywhere ready to assist you. Talk to your community adviser, a tutor, an academic adviser or to one of the professionals at the health or counseling centers. You’re the reason they are here. And remember, smiling and saying hello to others as you cross campus isn’t only a tradition at SRU, it’s good for you! 

So, there you have it. My five point plan for happiness and success at SRU. I hope you will embrace this plan as the gift it was meant to be. Welcome to the SRU family, we’ve been waiting for you.


Cheryl Norton, president


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