Published Date

March 16, 1998

Resource Type

For the Classroom


Teaching Methods

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


United States

Sometimes it is desirable to formalize your values and goals in life–or in an important life situation–into a personal code that is brief, but still captures the essence of what you want to accomplish. I believe everyone should have one. A personal code plays a role similar to that of a proverb. It serves as a powerful guide to our thinking and behavior that we can periodically pull out of our mind’s pocket and use as a compass to help keep us on course. Here is one that is designed as a guide to academic success. It tries to capture the essence of what I have discussed in much more detail in other sections of this Web guide. If this does not exactly capture your thoughts and feelings, you can design your own code–not only for school, but for every other major life situation in which you interact with others.

The Code

This is my reality check and my ideal; this is why I am here.
I am at the university to reinvent myself intellectually and socially.
I am responsible for the quality of my own education.
I have unlimited potential and I will not settle for mediocrity in myself.
I will make my education my number one priority.
I will concentrate my focus and work hard to succeed.
I will be a proactive learner and strive for excellence.
I will expand my mind and develop into a skilled professional.
I will always be in class and I will be there on time.
I will actively develop an interest in each one of my classes.
I will be a proactive participant in each one of my classes.
I will listen with my mind as well as with my ears.
I will do all of my homework.
I will read to understand what I am reading.
I will think analytically about the subjects I study.
I will write to become a powerful communicator.
I will develop strong personal and professional ethics.
I will respect my teachers, counselors, and fellow students.
I will take pride in my character, in my heritage, and in my work.
I am not alone, I will seek help when I need it.
I am not alone, I will help others when they need it.
I am not alone, others judge friends and associations by what I do.
My words and actions are my honor.
I will bring honor to myself and to those I represent.
I will add to the inheritance of the generations that have gone before me.
I will be better than my role models, mentors, and teachers.
I, myself, will become a role model for others.
I will make a difference in my own life and in the lives around me.
Only I can make this code real for me.

There are no heights you cannot reach and no obstacles you cannot overcome if you are willing to work hard enough and long enough at transforming yourself. You will always be a caterpillar if you think of knowledge as the accumulation of dry, lifeless facts, of learning as a tedium, and of wisdom as something that only belongs to the old. If you look for the empowerment of understanding and insight–why things are and how they work–your mind can soar like an eagle in flight.