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What Makes a Great Student?


Written by Dr. Melvin Randolph

Dr. Randolph obtained his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from the Graduate School of Business and Management at Argosy University, Chicago. Currently, he is an adjunct instructor for Argosy University, Chicago and several other institutions in the ‘Chicagoland’ area.

Last semester, I was teaching an economic class and I noticed that there was a student who frequently remained in the classroom after the class had ended. I approached the student and asked if he had any questions about the course material. The student told me that he had no questions. I asked the student why he stayed after class every week. The student informed me that he just wanted to be prepared for the next class. I was impressed by the student’s answer and it made me wonder what makes a great student. As I thought about it, I came up with five characteristics that I believe make a great student. Those five characteristics are: motivation, communication, good listening, self-awareness, and intelligence.


The first characteristic a good student must have is motivation. The student has to be motivated to want knowledge if they want to be successful. This is the most difficult part for a student and depending on the course subject and the professor; students may find it hard to find motivation. I always suggest to students to find something to motivate them about the subject. It is not the responsibility of the school and the teacher to provide motivation to the student. The student must find motivation that is unique to them and once that is found, they are on your way to gaining knowledge and being a great student.

Communication Skills

Secondly, students must have great communication skills. I remember being a college student and being afraid to ask the teacher a question during class because I was afraid of looking stupid in front of the class. In hindsight, I realize that I missed out on so much information because of this choice. I quickly learned that asking questions can in fact help shape and direct the class, not just for me, but for my classmates as well. What most students do not realize is that most teachers are happy if students came to class prepared to listen to the lecture and have questions.

Listening Skills

Next, students need to stop listening defensively. Listening defensively is problematic because students doing this only receive small amounts of the information being shared. Some people like to challenge questions and debate theories, but this method can be distracting to the student. A great student would be prepared to listen openly and actively so that they can succeed.

Self Awareness

Students sometimes need to look at themselves and ask what type of student they are in class. Being aware of self is another key component to becoming a great student. Taking ownership and responsibility in how you receive and interpret instruction are very important internal characteristics that can shape a student learning potential. Sometimes as students we are judgmental of instructors or classmates and we allow it to change our behavior and block the opportunity to learn something from the class. I believe humbling one-self and being prepared to accept instruction is also a good plan for becoming a great student.


Intelligence is needed to be a great student, but when I say intelligence I mean intelligence in all its various forms. It can be emotional, linguistic, and/or intra-personal intelligence; all of these are assets in learning. Whichever the type a student possesses, it can be used to help the student succeed. Intelligence is especially important when it comes to thinking critically. I believe critical thinking subjects transcends across all disciplines and classrooms, so it is a very important skill to master. Also, studies have shown that students with high intelligence seem to do well with critical thinking assignments.

In closing, I believe if students were to focus on these five characteristics (motivation, communication, listening, self-awareness and intelligence) and use them as a blueprint for their educational journey as a student, they will definitely be on their way to becoming a great student.

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Navigating Education and Elder Care | A Personal Journal Entry


Glory be, I've made it through another 70 hour work week.

You might be wondering what causes me to accumulate so many weekly work hours. That's easy to answer, I have two jobs. I currently work forty hours a week as a legal investigator for the City of Chicago. Once I'm finished there, I come home and begin my role as an informal care giver to my 74 year old mother. She suffers from Alzheimer's disease and requires 24-hour care. My weekdays begin at 4:30am and can continue through till 10pm. Although the hours can be physically and emotionally draining, it is the evening gig that offers the most rewarding experience. Luckily so, since informal caregivers receive no compensation for their efforts.

It was several years after Mom suffered her debilitating stoke that I decided to return to school to obtain my graduate degrees. I knew no matter what occurred regarding my mom's health she'd want me to pursue my educational goal. My mom had been a nurse and worked diligently to provide for my sister and me. She always instilled in us the importance of education and encouraged us to attain our personal best. I believe that I inherited my tenacious spirit from her. I received my Master's degree in 2011, and although I was fifty, decided to proceed towards a doctorate degree.

Fortunately, I chose a university that offered a rigorous program with engaging students, supportive staffers and dedicated faculty. This combination allowed me and fellow colleagues to achieve our educational pursuits. Unfortunately, my mom made her transition before I graduated. Yet, I know she is eternally happy that I pursued my dream and obtained my doctoral degree . I am also grateful that Argosy University helped me turn an aspiration into actuality.

Note: Debra earned her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership in 2017!

Written by Dr. Debra Gavin Ware EdD

Dr. Gavin Ware is an adjunct instructor at Argosy University, Chicago .

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Black History Month 2018: Remembering African American Mental Health Professionals & Advocates


Black history month is upon us. During this time we focus on the accomplishments and inventions of those of the past and present. From the invention of the cotton-gin to the stoplight, these advances along with advocacy and social justice have provided an avenue for all individuals today to prosper. In the field of mental health, there are individuals that should be celebrated for what they have done to further the field.

Dr. Kenneth Bancroft Clark (1914 2005) - First African American president of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Clark, along with his wife, famous for the “Doll Study” experiment which looked at responses of more than 200 Black children preferences in the selection of white or brown dolls. Dr. Clark’s finding concluded that segregation was psychologically damaging which was a determining factor in the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education.

Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark (1917-1983) – First African American woman to earn a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. Along with her husband, Dr. Kenneth Clark, her research on race and child development helped in desegregation efforts especially in the Brown vs. Board of Education. Understanding the need of mental health services for the African American community, Dr. Clark and her husband opened “The Northside Center for Child Development” in Harlem, NY in 1946.

These are just two out of the many people who made a pathway for individuals to learn a new way of thinking, explore new options, and give back to a community. This month provides an opportunity to look at the accomplishment of these heroes of the past and present while, challenging those to make a positive change for the future.

Written by: Dr. Joseph Campbell

Dr. Joseph Campbell is currently the Director of Training in the Counselor Education & Supervision program at Argosy University, Chicago . He obtained his Masters of Arts degree in School Counseling from Concordia University where he specialized in working with adolescents and young adults. Dr. Campbell’s research interest includes social justice and advocacy in classrooms and communities, and the integration of technology into the counseling field.

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  • 2018

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