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Lesson 2: Attitude and Academic Success

Gary North, Ph.D.
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Did you lecture to the wall for one class's daily assignment? If not, don't read this lesson until you do. You must complete each day's assignment before going on to the next lesson. You signed up for this course. You vowed to yourself that you would do what I ask and not quit. Please stick with me. I'm here to help you help yourself.

Lesson 2


In setting any goal for yourself, you must ask yourself three questions:

1. What do I want to achieve?
2. How soon do I want to achieve it?
3. What am I willing to pay (give up)?

Here are two goals: (1) getting into college; (2)getting an increased ability to learn new material.

What are you willing give up in order to gain these goals?


Let's discuss a few goals that are legitimate.

You have set goals for yourself. One of them is personal achievement. You want to improve your self- confidence. If you follow my instructions, lesson by lesson, your self-confidence will increase. That's because your performance will increase. You will learn more, remember more, and understand more.

Another goal may be a reduction of fear regarding college. If you're afraid of something, this can be a benefit, if your fear leads you to take steps to overcome it. But constant fear is a terrible liability. It eats away at your self-confidence. It keeps you from making risky decisions that are important in life. If you are afraid to lose because you don't think you can ever win, this will paralyze you.

If you learn how to learn, which my course will teach you if you want to learn, you will never have to be afraid of school again. I'll even teach you how to avoid the courses that you just will not be able to pass.

You may be trying to prove something. That's all right, if what you're trying to prove is legitimate. You may be trying to prove to yourself that you're no dummy, that you have the brains to do better. You just don't know what needs to be done.

You may also understand that the techniques that help you to learn in a classroom can help you learn things -- some kinds of things -- outside the classroom. You want to have a successful lifetime career. If you know how to learn, you can succeed in whatever career you choose.

You may be looking for respect. This is good, just so long as the thing for which you're respected is legitimate. I don't think you don't want respect because you are a successful cheater.

Your long-term lifetime goals should be more important to you than these short-term goals. Focus on the goals that define you as a person. Focus on lifetime goals. Your classroom work has meaning in terms of the doors your grades open up to you.


Think of my course as military boot camp. Nobody likes boot camp. But when you ask a U.S. Marine if he is glad that he went through boot camp, he will say "yes."

If you survive Marine boot camp, you prove that you're tough. If boot camp weren't tough, surviving it wouldn't prove anything about a Marine's toughness.

Boot camp involves doing things you hate to do. So does high school. You are asked to take courses you will never use. These courses take time away from courses that you might actually use after graduation.

I will show you how to get through high school boot camp.

What about costs? You don't pay anything for this course, other than paper and toner to print it. The real cost is the cost of what you will be required to give up. You will be asked to give up the following, beginning in the next seven days:

1. A lot of extra time: 15 to 20 hours/week
2. A sloppy approach to time management
3. A sloppy approach to learning
4. An attitude of "I don't care about school"

I will show you where to find the extra 15-20 hours without messing up your life. There are wasted hours hidden where you probably have not imagined.

You must learn to work diligently in a class that you hate, or that bores you, or that confuses you, or that you don't think will do you any good, even if you receive an A. Everyone is asked to take classes he doesn't like.

Super-smart students can get through such classes on their brains alone. You probably can't. So, you will have to work harder. You will have to do what is really difficult: master material that is not only difficult but which actually bores you.

It is not easy to do well in a class that bores you. But never forget: it's not easy to get through Marine boot camp, either. But that's what people who want to be Marines have to do. It is a mark of their perseverance that they do get through.

You can do this. If you can read my daily lessons, you are intellectually capable of doing this. Whether you will actually do it is up to you. I can show you how. I can't do the work for you.

You aren't stupid. If you have read my lessons so far, you aren't stupid. I don't write for dummies. I write for people who can think. I will now make a guess about you. See if I'm correct. There are some things that you learn fast and well. There are some subjects that you can discuss intelligently. You know a lot of facts about these subjects. They just may not be subjects that are taught in high school.

There are people who know all about fixing machines, reading repair manuals, and putting things together who are poor students in school. They aren't stupid. They just aren't skilled at passing written exams and writing term papers. High school is not designed for them.

Count the benefits. Then count the costs. When the benefits are distant and the costs are immediate, a lot of people quit trying.

Don't quit trying.


Additional Help On-Line

This course is free. But if you find that it's not enough, you can get more help on-line. On this Web site, I answer people's questions. This includes questions relating to study techniques.

There are Question and Answer forums on this site that are aimed at students, ages 13 to 90. (I don't allow anyone under age 13 to join, because of restrictions imposed by Federal law.) One forum relates to study techniques. (Another relates to choosing a college and then getting into it.)

Students interact with other students. This way, everyone can contribute.

To find out how to join, click here:




There is a video you really need to see. It's called Stand and Deliver. It's a true story about a successful businessman, a Mexican-American, who quits his job to teach in a high school in the Los Angeles barrio district: Hispanic. He takes a pay cut in order to teach students who initially don't care about mathematics.

His fellow teachers aren't too thrilled with him, either. They had not been successful in motivating students. Why should he think that he will be successful?

He goes to work. He even adds a course in calculus. More than this: it is an AP course -- advanced placement. The students who pass a national exam with a 4 or a 5 can get college-level credit for the course.

Nobody on the faculty in that school had ever thought that these students would take a course in calculus, let alone an AP course. He received no encouragement, or so the movie indicates. Even some of the parents were opposed. One man wanted his daughter to work nights in the family restaurant. Why should she take calculus?

The movie is really about his students. Will they commit? Will they do what it takes to be a success? Will they stand and deliver?

You need to see it. I am asking you to see it. You need to assess your own motivation, your own hunger for academic success. Compare your situation to the situation facing those students. Compare your advantages to theirs.

Then make up your mind. Are you ready to stand and deliver?

There is a phrase people use to describe a person's commitment to something: "Fire in the belly." There is no source of success that rivals this determination to succeed.

I can't put this into you. You either have it or you don't. If you have it, my course can provide you with the tools and skills of academic success. If you don't have it, then all I can do is set the table. You won't come to the feast.


This is a real-world course. It acknowledges that there are limits on what students are willing to do.

You should review your lifetime goals. Remind yourself why you signed up for this course.

As a secondary goal, you may want to prove to yourself or others that you're not a dummy, that you're not a flake, that you are an achiever.

You want to get the skills you need to graduate from college.

This course is like boot camp. It's a credit to anyone who survives it.

Do you have fire in the belly? Are you ready to stand and deliver?

If you are not willing to do well in courses that bore you, I cannot help you.


If you have not already done thus, write a list of your lifetime personal goals that are associated with raising your grades and learning how to learn. You need to do this exercise to prepare yourself psychologically for paying the cost of achieving these goals. File this list with your signed vow to complete my course.

Second, rent the video, Stand and Deliver. Watch it tonight, if possible. Ask your parents to watch it with you. Tell them that it's for my course. Watch to the very end, when you read on- screen what happened.

Call to the video rental store first to see if it's there. Another student who is deciding whether to commit to taking my course may have rented it. Act fast. Call now. The movie will be in the cheap, 5-day rental section.

If you rent it, take it back tomorrow. Let the next student see it.

The movie may be in your local city library for free.

Don't forget to lecture to the wall: one page, one class.

If you want to make more money, keep more of your money, and enjoy your money more, subscribe to my free Tip of the Week. The subscription box is here: www.garynorth.com.
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