I started writing this book after my third year of college. Initially it felt pretty weird telling my close friends that I was trying to get a book published. Most responses I got went something like “What credentials do you have? Who wants to read something written by someone who hasn’t even graduated from college yet? Maybe you should wait a few years before you try to get the book published.”
Those remarks were discouraging, but I decided (in naïve self-confidence, not bitter defiance) that they were somewhat irrelevant. This is a book written by a student for students. I don’t have a PhD in psychology or education, and neither do I have any experience as a teacher. The five-step program I’ve developed, which will help you become a happy and fulfilled student, wasn’t born out of hours spent analyzing data and running experiments. Rather, it was born out of sixteen years of schooling and relentless questioning as to what the true purpose of education is.
During my career as a student, I achieved a lot of academic success -- although I’m sure that some of you readers out there have achieved much greater success than me. I graduated summa cum laude from Duke University with a double major in mechanical engineering and economics (and a GPA of 3.98 on a 4.0 scale), was inducted into three academic honor societies in college, didn’t get a grade lower than an A- throughout high school and college, and was the salutatorian of my high school (out of a graduating class of 850 students).
Yet these achievements, in and of themselves, didn’t bring me happiness. I accomplished what most students dream of, but for most of my academic career it only led to a greater feeling of insecurity and emptiness. I was acing every test and exam, but I felt like I was failing life. My accomplishments made me wonder, “Surely there’s more to life than getting A’s and trying to get a good job?” I now realize that academics are important, but that they aren’t everything. Good grades really don’t lead to happiness. In fact, being obsessed about grades leads to unhappiness.
The Happy Student is the story of how I discovered real meaning in the pursuit of academic success, and how every student can, too. It’s a story that will resonate in the hearts of every college student and every future-minded high school student.
Interestingly, when I was doing research on what similar books are on the market, I discovered that every book that aims to motivate students academically focuses on extrinsic measures: new classroom management techniques, innovative systems of rewards and punishments, novel approaches to incentivize learning. (Not surprisingly, most books related to education are about helping students get more A’s, regardless of whether they feel fulfilled.)
In other words, most authors assume that students are intrinsically unmotivated -- and that there’s nothing you can do to change that. I don’t believe this to be true. To become intrinsically motivated, students must come to a deep realization of the joy of learning and the beauty of education. They must become purpose-driven rather than performance-driven. They must ask the “why” questions before they ask the “how” questions. They must learn how to climb the ladder more effectively, but only after they’ve made sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
I invite you to join me on this journey of asking those all-important “why” questions. This is a challenging process that lays the foundation of your happiness as a student, but it’s not for the fainthearted. Happiness isn’t just something you feel; it’s something you work for. I trust that you’re ready to get down to business.
Publication date: March 2012
Price: $16.95 US
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Three lucky winners will receive a copy of the book, The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success, by Daniel Wong. Open to residents of the U.S. only. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday, July 5, 2012.
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DISCLAIMER: I received no compensation or products for this post.