How to succeed in college without really trying (too hard)

Dr. Bob Rasmussen, Dean of Students, sees it all. The students who visit him range from those who want to start clubs to ones who are struggling with medical challenges. The issues they face might be roommate arguments or they could be student arrests. He engages hundreds of new students during the orientation sessions, but his job description also involves taking the time to help individuals. When I ran into him at Jumpstart, he was very approachable – a “Hey, can we talk?” followed by a “Sure, here’s my number.” Later, I’m in his office for an interview.

Anyone can go to the library and check out a book with tips on getting good grades or one on how to make friends and influence people. But Rasmussen knows the inside scoop on what resources UVU students, specifically, have to make them into standout people.

“When I see a student who is taking advantage of the services offered, being proactive, getting involved and wanting to have a say in how things function. you get the sense that they are looking for more than a degree,” he says. If anyone is able to spot and identify the traits of a successful student, it’s him.

His first suggestion is to get to know and regularly visit your academic advisor. “[That way,] you’ll always have someone to go to when you hit a stumbling block,” he says. “The academic advisor is perhaps the one person with the greatest amount of knowledge to tap into.” The advisors aren’t just catalogues for which classes to take – they know of services, events and other useful tidbits that can help you get the most out of your university experience.

In addition to faculty being helpful, other students can be a great source of information. “The student body presidency is not just a clique. They meet with the president weekly and the board of trustees monthly. They have more connections than the average student realizes,” Rasmussen stresses. And for any student who is looking for advice, opportunity or direction, it’s as simple as walking into the UVUSA office and asking to speak to anyone in student government.

Lastly, Rasmussen believes that involvement is key. “Students would be crazy not to participate in something of interest,” he says. “Regardless of your major [or] interests, there are ways to get involved.” He rattles off a list of clubs, staffs, committees and other groups, but brings up that participation does not have to equal commitment. “Oftentimes it’s informal. You can get involved in things [like service projects] without a lot of time commitment.”

But dedication has its place, and Rasmussen exemplifies this trait in his interactions with students. “Everyone says open door, but literally every day, eight to five, they are welcome to walk in to ask a question,” he offers. “If you find yourself in a spot where you don’t know where to turn or who to ask, this is where I come in.”

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