When I give presentations on student success, I surprise some in the audience when I note that the use of unstructured time (along with what I call “work character”) is possibly the greatest differentiator in predicting success.
IQ and other innate talents only get one so far. A student’s work ethic will ultimately determine success. Working when nothing is due – the use of unstructured time – is a critical factor in evaluating one’s work ethic.
The late, great Steven Covey of 7 Habits fame popularized a time matrix:
Quadrant I: Urgent, Important
Quadrant II: Not urgent, Important
Quadrant III: Urgent, Not important
Quadrant IV: Not urgent, not important
Studying the night before a major test is important and urgent. We would expect all but the most reluctant students to have that habit in place.
Studying a week before a major test is important but not urgent. Those who do so become successful.
Our Student Mastery Program imparts this key distinction to our students. This alone has been pivotal in helping improve student performance.
A few years ago, I started working with a student from Essex, CT. He attended Valley Regional where I know many students. For that reason, I could confidently say that he was among the top 10% intellectually. But, his grades only put him in the top 25%. Time management, particularly his lack of effort in the Q2 region was the primary culprit. Fortunately, he was smart enough to understand my ramblings on time management. He ended up graduating in the top 5% of his class.