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The author of the best-selling book What the Best College Teachers Do is back with more humane, doable, and inspiring help, this time for students who want to get the most out of college and every other educational enterprise, too. The first thing they should do? Think beyond the transcript. The creative, successful people profiled in this book college graduates who went on to change the world we live in aimed higher than straight A's.
They used their four years to cultivate habits of thought that would enable them to grow and adapt throughout their lives. Combining academic research on learning and motivation with insights drawn from interviews with people who have won Nobel Prizes, Emmys, fame, or the admiration of people in their field, Ken Bain identifies the key attitudes that distinguished the best college students from their peers. These individuals started out with the belief that intelligence and ability are expandable, not fixed. This led them to make connections across disciplines, to develop a "meta-cognitive" understanding of their own ways of thinking, and to find ways to negotiate ill-structured problems rather than simply looking for right answers.
Intrinsically motivated by their own sense of purpose, they were not demoralized by failure nor overly impressed with conventional notions of success. These movers and shakers didn't achieve success by making success their goal. For them, it was a byproduct of following their intellectual curiosity, solving useful problems, and taking risks in order to learn and grow.
Ken Bain is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia.