Peer Talk: Student Success in a Fast-paced World

Arianna Brown-Harris

As a single mother, full-time student, bank employee, and Pearson student advisory board member, I have learned some key disciplines that have helped me successfully manage multiple responsibilities. Some of the most important include: organization, time-management, motivation, accountability, having “cheerleaders,” being involved on campus, and maintaining rigorous, but achievable goals. In an effort to help other students develop these skills, I want to offer some advice and guidelines.

Having a Type A personality, organization has come easily for me, but for those who are not type A, I encourage you to work hard on this one. Organization can come in many forms, but two steps to help you are to separate all your coursework into folders/binders so nothing is lost or misplaced and to prepare a calendar that ties together all your responsibilities. Time-management can be best managed through a series of steps such as scheduling some “interruptions” or times where unexpected items come up, plan your day as soon as you wake up in the morning, and reduce distractions by turning off your electronics and removing them from your room so that you may focus on tasks on a timeline. Organization and time-management allow you to do more with less time, which is greatly appreciated by others when you have so many responsibilities on your plate.

Another key to success is to find something or someone in your life that motivates you to do your best and succeed. For me, this has and always will be my son as my future is his future and the better I do, the more my son will thrive. For you, this could be the career you always wanted, or to make your grandma proud of you. Keep this in mind almost as a mantra whenever you feel overwhelmed or need some inspiration.

Accountability can be a motivator of success in and of itself. Sometimes accountability partnerships grow organically, but they can also be setup and proposed. You can have a reciprocal partnership or just one where another is keeping you accountable. Your parents, another student, siblings, or a good friend are good examples. Choose someone who you know will help keep you on track with your goals and being successful. If your goal is to improve your grades by reducing distractions that may be hindering your study time and another student may be receiving the same grades for the same reasons, you guys can team up and check in with each other’s progress.

Having “cheerleaders,” or those willing to cheer you on and keep you uplifted is integral to a successful education. It can be very easy to become overwhelmed in college and start to feel discouraged. This is where these people can come in handy. Keep yourself surrounded with positive people who want to see you triumph, who will encourage you when necessary and be there when you need someone to listen.

Being involved on your campus has many benefits. You are able to make new friends, and meet instructors who can see your effort and might be willing to write letters of recommendation. Also you are able to gain experience that can later become a highlight on your resume or help you take the next steps in your student career. Last year, I was president of Phi Theta Kappa, the two-year national honor society, and it not only provided all the above stated benefits, but it also brought scholarships, leadership skills, and a way to further my voice and goals.

Maintaining rigorous goals will keep you on track with your education and can help you plot steps you need to take. It is never too early to set goals and they can be for each facet of your life. For example, for my son, my current goals are to spend at least 15 minutes a day focusing on his reading so that by the end of the summer (before he starts kindergarten) he will be well prepared. For my education it is to take 17-21 credits a quarter until I graduate with my Bachelor’s degree so that I am ready to start the Master’s program in the fall of 2016. For my work life it is to take on new projects and show my employers I am worthy of advancement.

Success is not far out of your reach, but it won’t just fall into your lap. I encourage you to incorporate the above tips into your life so that you too can be a more successful student.



Arianna Brown-Harris
Eastern Washington University • Cheney, WA, USA
Business degree in Finance | Minor in Accounting and Economics

Arianna Brown-Harris is a returning adult student and mother to a preschooler who loves learning just as much as she. The importance of earning a college education is and will continue to be stressed throughout her child’s life. She returned to school, attending Spokane Community College in Spokane, WA where she just recently completed her A.A. in General Studies as well as an A.A.S in Paralegal Studies. While there, she became President of Phi Theta Kappa and was the recipient of the 2014 All Washington Academic Team Award. Now at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Arianna is completing her Business degree in Finance with a minor in Accounting and Economics. Arianna works part-time at a law firm, utilizing her Paralegal degree in family, civil and criminal law. In her spare time, she enjoys picnics at the park with her son and enjoying the beauty of the great northwest. She also loves traveling and plans on visiting every continent by the time she turns 30. Arianna hopes to bring her passion and vigor for team building and greatness to the 2014–15 advisory board.


Learn more about the Student Advisory Board.