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A Guide to Greater Success in School: Ownership and Owning Your Own Life

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What does it mean to have ownership of an experience, or of your life in general? In order for you to take ownership of your job as a student, you must first understand what the characteristics of ownership are.
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What is meant by ownership? How can you own your own life?

Adam sits over by the windows, across the room from you in your crowded social studies class. He has brown hair and brown eyes, average height and build, yet you notice him. He doesn’t glow or anything, but he stands out all the same. You’ve seen him suiting up to practice with the baseball team, you recall, and you also saw him working at Ace Hardware that time you went to get a key made. Alice, from your math class, tells you she lives near him, and he takes care of a sister five years younger and a brother nine years younger when his mother is finishing up her shift at the bank. How does he manage it all?

At the end of the quarter, you overhear the teacher praising Adam for never missing class and for turning in his work on time. You’ve seen him ask clarifying questions before assignments are due and be an active participant of the class. You see that many other students have missed class, turned in assignments late, and let other obligations take priority over their school work. What is different about Adam? What characteristics does he possess that you or your other classmates do not?

What’s the thing about him that’s different, that makes him stand out? How does he do it? Is there a trick? Is he cheating, or is he just smarter than you? He is not cheating, but he is smart enough to have learned the key to success. Adam does not let excuses or circumstances get in his way of success in or outside of school. He takes his job as a student seriously and does his best.

Maybe you would like to possess the characteristics for school success that Adam has, but you are unable to identify what those characteristics are and how to learn them. Well, it may be simpler than you think. Adam is committed, hard-working, and motivated, and he has pride in his academic work because he has ownership of his school experience. What does it mean to have ownership of an experience, or of your life in general? In order for you to take ownership of your job as a student, you must first understand what the characteristics of ownership are.

What Is Ownership?

Ownership is a person claiming something as his or her own responsibility, or having and controlling something. Think of the difference between renting and owning a car. When you own a car, you take care of it, getting the oil changed on schedule, keeping it clean because you are proud of it, parking it out of the sun—in short, you take care of it because it’s a part of you. Adam is like that with his family, not grumbling that he has to take care of his siblings but willing to do so because he has accepted ownership of his family; they are a proud part of him. Or think of something you own, such as clothes, an idea, or even a cell phone. When you are the owner of something, you have the right to control it, and you need to have a certain skill set to use it. For example, to be a successful cell phone owner, you first need to commit to the usage guidelines and sign a contract. Then you must take the time to learn how the phone works, even though it may not be easy. You can then take pride in your possession and in the fact that you can use the phone effectively. All these skills make you a more successful phone owner.

People who do not have ownership over their experiences or life often feel out of control. Their fear and frustration often results in their not taking responsibility for their actions and blaming others for their situation. This type of behavior limits a person’s ability to grow and learn from his or her successes and failures. Ownership offers the power to make a difference in your life.

You can also think about ownership in terms of education. When you, as a student, have ownership of your school experience, you are better able to control the outcome of your academic success. For you to own your educational experience, you need to learn and adopt fundamental knowledge and characteristics. These can be academic in nature, such as math facts or paragraph writing, or they can be more personal, such as critical thinking skills, accountability, time management, or knowing effective study skills. As you adopt more knowledge and characteristics, you come closer to owning your whole educational experience. The more abilities that you, as a student, own, the more academic success you will have.

In Adam’s case, he owns the academic foundational knowledge to do well in class, and he also owns the personal characteristics of accountability, time management, and study skills to do well in class. Because of all the knowledge and characteristics Adam owns, his instructors recognize that he owns his school experience.

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