lake champlain sunset

4 E’s of Success

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

suc – cess: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

What does success look like for you? Hopefully, you’ve come to college with a purpose – education, or an aim – getting a job – in mind. Success is hardly something that can be formulized or bottled up and sold at the gas station, but there is something called the 4 E’s. And the four E’s could very well be just what you need to find success in your college career.



First Year – The best thing you can do when your feet first touchdown on the campus that will be your home for the next four years is explore. Walk all over campus and figure out where things are and what offices are in charge of doing what. Drive around town. Get lost (with a buddy).

Second Year – This is the time to explore your options. What could you see yourself doing after you graduate? What do you need to do to get there? Grad school or straight into the work force? Minor or no minor? Residence hall or apartment? Dublin or Montreal?

Third Year – Get out of the country if you can. Explore your world around you, as it will expand your horizons in ways you can’t comprehend until after you’ve done it. At the very least, take your studies in the CORE seriously; it’s a big world out there and the more you know about it, the better-rounded a person and job candidate you will be.

Fourth Year – Explore your options Take II. Whatever you saw for yourself in your second year has surely changed. What do you want to do after graduation now? What else could you do besides work or go back to school? What do you want most in your heart of hearts? Where is your passion?



First Year – Raise your hand in class. Speak up and don’t be afraid of what others will think. You will get more out of your classes if you contribute your own ideas.

Second Year – Get involved on campus. Volunteer to clean trash up around the city; attend a Diversity Programming documentary viewing; go and see the school’s new play. Walk up to someone in the dining hall and ask if you can sit with them. Make yourself uncomfortable.

Third Year – Say “yes” to opportunities more often than you say “no.” If someone offers to take you to Montreal for the weekend to see an art show, go. If your professor asks you to do an additional research project because you’re not being challenged enough, say yes. Take that unexpected internship. Down to Boston for that leadership conference.

Fourth Year – Create your own opportunities. Your capstone is a great chance for you do this, but also create opportunities in other places in your life. Don’t wait to be offered something; go out and get it.



First Year – The best way to experience your first year in college is to be present. That means going to classes and paying attention, not surfing the web or sleeping behind your sunglasses.

Second Year – Do something unexpected. Go somewhere new, ski down a mountain, go to the movie theater by yourself, cook dinner for your favorite professor. The experience will only enrich your character and growth.

Third Year – Take on a leadership position. Become an orientation leader, PA, RA, or Student Ambassador (SA). If that’s too much responsibility, consider joining a club or taking on a position of leadership in a club you already attend regularly.

Fourth Year – Don’t limit yourself to the experiences you’ve already had. When applying for jobs, it’s okay to apply to positions you’re not quite qualified for. If you’re willing to learn whatever skills you’re missing, oftentimes it’s enough.



First Year – Make new friends, get out of your house often, listen to your RA’s, go to class, do your homework, study for your exams, start thinking about your career. If you do these things, you’ll be miles ahead of your classmates.

Second Year – Set goals for yourself. Write down on a post-in note that you want to join a club, get an A in Colonialism, and get a promotion at your job. Post it somewhere you can see. You know what to do next: achieve your goals.

Third Year – Prioritize. Maybe maintaining a 4.0 was important to you in your first year, but maybe what’s important now has changed. You have internships, extra credits to take, and friendships to juggle. Figure out what is most important to you and make commitments to these things.

Fourth Year – Start applying for jobs or grad school by the time second semester rolls around (or before if you really want to stand out!).

And those are the 4 E’s of Success! You have the wisdom, now it’s up to you to use it.