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3 lessons for college students from the FIFA World Cup

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Three lessons from soccer field at the FIFA World Cup matches in Brazil readily transfer to the college classroom. In short, there’s much a college student, particularly a first generation college student, can learn from watching the World Cup matches and the players.

Yesterday’s FIFA World Cup challenge between the US and Portugal holds several lessons. Portugal scored early in the match, a blow to any team’s ego. Yet the US kept playing, kept to their strategy, and went on to regroup and score twice for the lead.

Lesson One: One failed exam doesn't guarantee a failed semester.

Early in the semester, an exam or quiz, may get away from you, you may fail miserably and that happens. If that happens early in the semester, no worries-- you have at least ten more weeks to make it up. Stay focused and remember the goal: pass the class and graduate.

Each team that made it to the FIFA World Cup wants to win each match, and advance. Each team wants to progress and capture the cup. Same is true for college students: Attend each class with the intention and motivation to pass and remember the ultimate goal is graduation (or winning the cup).

Lesson Two: Diplomacy is the passport to everywhere and everything you ever wanted

Bosnia-Herzegovina played Nigeria Saturday evening. Bosnia got a bad call. The ref said players were off-sides when Bosnia-Herzegovina scored. Bosnia complained and complained and they got a bit gangster with the refs. The team lost their cool and confidence, and consequently were unable to regroup after the refs refused their goal. The refs apparently didn’t appreciate being yelled at and gave Nigeria a goal when their players were off-sides.

If you disagree with your professor, teacher or instructor, diplomatic. Ask for one thing, rather than accuse with harsh declarations. Diplomacy is what most of us should have learned in high school. It’s the art of being polite in the effort to get what you want. If you can’t be nice to your professors, chances are professors aren’t going to give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scoring essays.

And God forbid your handwriting is messy, your spelling is poor, and your attitude blows. That’s easy D for a professor who doesn’t have time. Trust me, most professors don’t have time. There is always the possibility that a professor will concede a mistake or rethink your perspective with old fashioned diplomatic conversation.

Show maturity when you disagree or don’t understand a professors critique of your work. Going ballistic will get you nowhere. If it doesn’t get you thrown out of class or school, it most certainly will get you a grade far lower than you could have possibly anticipated. (and it’s unfortunate that college professors tolerate college classroom bullies----those bullies get out into the real world with a degree and wonder why the job offers aren’t rolling in).

Lesson Three: You can’t claim an A until final grades are posted.

Yesterday, the US thought they had the game in the bag. They were ahead of Portugal with a 2-1 score in a World Cup death match. In the last seconds, Portugal charged and scored with something like 3 seconds left in the game. Amazing? Not really, it was do or die for Portugal in the FIFA World Cup matches and determination gets you everywhere.

College semesters are like that. You may be the type who plays strong at the end of the semester. And that’s great especially if your professor begins strong at the beginning of the semester and is dog tired by finals. Take advantage of it and win in the end, or at the very least break even.

On the reverse --If your college professor comes on strong at the end of the semester, be prepared. You have it twice as hard. When finals roll around, you’re dog tired, sleepy, and irritable. If have no more fight in you, your early effort is lost.
The last play of the World Cup game against Portugal yesterday, American defenders were far away from the ball and far away from where they needed to be to block Portugal’s score. Don’t get caught sleeping at the end of the semester lest you rob yourself of the goal.

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