Learning outside the classroom: Life advice from faculty to students

Shaelee Haaf and Shaelee Haaf

Alongside learning about microeconomics, organic chemistry or media production, college students are also figuring out how to navigate life outside the classroom. Here is advice a few professors have to offer.

Kristie Foell

World languages and cultures associate professor

“Take the risks and do the things NOW, while you’re young! Whether it’s attending grad school in another state, working/studying/traveling overseas, or starting a business or a family, the things you do in your 20s will lay the foundation for the rest of your life. So whatever you’re passionate about, find a way and GO FOR IT! In my own life this meant heading to graduate school in California and lots of time spent in Germany and Austria perfecting my language skills, including a year with Fulbright in Vienna; all of that laid the foundations for my academic career.

“A second piece of advice: once you’re established in a job or career, pay yourself first! Even $25 a month placed in a retirement account will add up to thousands more at retirement age. Don’t be someone like me who is playing “catch-up” on retirement in your 50s or even 60s; make saving a habit while you’re young, and your older self will thank you!”

Robyn Miller

Instructor for School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies

“The advice I would give students is to make sure you save money and do not get in debt that you cannot pay off. It is very important to make sure you create a budget and have money left over after expenses at the end of the month. Emergencies come up and it is important to have funds for these emergencies. As well as keep your credit rating high so when you buy a house or a car you will receive the lowest interest rate as possible. Interest rates are directly tied to your credit score.”


R.G Cravens

Political science assistant professor at California Polytechnic State University

“Based on my experience, I would advise students to live their lives authentically and find a community that supports them. Students who find a community in college, either through peer groups or student organizations, are more likely to graduate. Even as a faculty member, relocating to BG was made so much easier when I found a community of friends and colleagues. I stay in touch with them and miss them now that I’m in California!”


Andrew Pelletier

College of Musical Arts professor of Horn

“I would give three items of advice to college students, regardless of their field of study: 1/ Thoughts are tremendous energy–you can make or break your reality and how you experience life by how you think; so take personal responsibility for your life, remove victim mentality, stay positive, and keep an open mind to new ideas and experiences.  2/ We are all in one large community in a University setting–so get in the habit of speaking kindly of others, be a good neighbor to those around you, and be true to your word and honorable in all your dealings.  You would want the same from the people around you, so be that example to them! And, 3/ LAUGH!!  Life is short, and occasionally very silly, so it’s a good idea to keep a light heart, enjoy life in the moment (not eventually) and find some way to have a good, hearty belly laugh every day!”

Bob Kline

College of Arts and Sciences academic adviser

“Failure is a part of learning.  You learn from mistakes. Everyone fails at something.  Learning from mistakes enables you to grow as a person, professional, partner, or friend.  Learning how to fail is one of the most important things to learn during these formative years.”

Yanqin Lu

School of Media and Communication assistant professor

“I did not think much about personal financial management (e.g., retirement contribution; savings investment) until joining the BGSU faculty. I wish I could start planning earlier and be more financially literate. Given my personal experience, I suggest students take advantage of any possible opportunities and start learning personal financial basics as early as possible.”