Sowing and Reaping Academic Success

I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

Psalm 119:99

Wouldn’t it be great to experience the verse above? With the thought of going back to school, this verse comes to mind because it seems to fully capture what academic success might look like. This blog post isn’t just about what academics success looks like, but how to actually get there; how you can guarantee your academics success. How you can get closer to getting a 4.0. How you can raise your semester GPA by two points more than you had last semester. Sounds far-fetched, right?  Let’s see.

There’s a big problem though. Again, this blog post is supposed to reveal a practical way of achieving academic success. The problem is this though: if I were to tell you the steps to achieving academic success, would you actually follow the instructions given? Be honest and really think about it. All your life people may have told you what you need to do to be academically successful: go to class, study, don’t procrastinate, etc., etc. It is possible you have heard some things you need to do to be academically successful at least 5 times in your life. But the question is, “Out of all the times you’ve heard what you supposedly need to know, how many times did you obey or listen to what you were told?

If I told you what you needed to do to be academically successful would you actually listen and apply the advice? Most people hear what they need to do to be successful in school and then they don’t do as well as they want and then they begin to seek help and ask what they can do to succeed. The problem is what you need to do to succeed is not a secret. In fact, it's already been told to you maybe 100 times. The question is, did you actually do and will you actually do what’s necessary to be successful academically. Some people think, “This semester I’m not doing anything but school and the gym. Yea, that’s it, then I’ll get a 4.0.” The idea that ‘the less you have to do the better you will perform in school’ isn’t always the case and most of the time I’ve seen that fail.

My best semester in school was when I worked two jobs, had two prominent leadership positions, and took 19 credits with some of my major’s hardest classes. I was able to get straight A’s and a few A- that  semester and to this day, that’s been the best semester GPA I’ve had. Glory to God! God really graced me that semester. I didn’t take on such a heavy load that semester without asking God if He would sustain me through all of it. He told me to take on the challenge and I did. It was super hard and I sweated almost every step of the way, but I didn’t lose faith.

If I were to tell you what you needed to do to succeed academically, would you actually listen? Obedience to what is true is the key to succeeding. But what does that actually mean? Succeeding academically is not a secret because how people have been successful in the past is not hidden.  The verses below reveal how I’ve been able to be successful academically:

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding

Proverbs 15:32

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Proverbs 9:9

Instruction is so important because it paves a way to a predetermined destination. “Huh, what does that mean?” Instruction is a structure or template for how you get in line with the goal you have set. If you want academic success, you have to simply get proper instruction. Not just get proper instruction, you must follow it.

The semester when I excelled, in spite of my busy schedule, was a combination of me hearing God daily and walking by faith. I literally had to ask God “I’m overwhelmed and I have many assignments, what do I do first?” Sometimes it was school work and other times it was to prayer and read my word and then get to school work right after. Sometimes I would have to help others with their problems spiritually, personally or academically before I did my own school work. The key here is that I didn’t do anything based on my own presumption or what I thought was best, but I asked God or moved based on what God instructed me to do at the time. As it is written:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

John 5:19

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

Obedience to instruction is key; obedience not just to God, but to your actual instructor. I ask my professors about how rigorous their class is and what a person would need to do in order to get an A in the class. I ask, “How I should study for the exams and assignments?” Because I ask, they instruct me. Their instruction is important because they are the instructor! The degree to which I obey their instruction as a master in the subject, is the degree to which I perform successfully in their class. They as teachers have mastered the materially to a certain level and I have to follow their protocol in order to secure my chances of performing well.

My main example is my Anatomy & Physiology 2 class during the semester when I took 19 credits and had straight A’s. My professor literally told the class on day one what we needed to do to get an A in the class. She said: study immediately after every class, study in groups of at least 3-4 people, use flash cards and a few other basics things like this. This was one of the hardest gateway courses into my major and yes, it was a weed out class with 400 people. I got an A on every exam, except for the deadly final on which I got a 79%. People always complained that this teacher was so hard and her class was unfair, but I had a great experience with her simply because I listened to her instruction. The reason why I got a 79% on the final was because the professor told us not to study the previous exams to prepare for the final because she would not use the same information over again. The class had so much material, but I thought she was jiving.

Here is the key: she gave instructions, but the degree to which I followed her instruction determined the degree of my success on the exam. Clearly, I got a 79. My obedience there wasn’t particularly on point, but I came out with an A in the class because I had sown obedience to her instruction for so long. I reaped my harvest in due season. You’ll reap yours too, if you walk by faith and obey the instructions and guidance of God every moment of your semester and the instructions of your professors too.

Oluwatobi (Tobi) Oke is a young entrepreneur from the University of Maryland College Park who is the CEO of Good Lord Clothing. He's the Vice President of Bethel Campus Fellowship and attends Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. He shares the Gospel through rap music and plays the congos. He is working on his mixtape called “3 Days In The Grave” hopefully to be released fall 2015.