During my junior year of high school, I made two 30-minute appointments with Dean Cady in order to discuss college plans.
At the first meeting during the first semester, he told me to continue taking math, science, Latin and history. I assured him I would certainly do that.
He told me I should read biographies of successful people during the summer before college.
Mr. Cady stressed the fact that when visiting colleges I should not be overly impressed by fancy dorms but spend time in both the science labs and the library.
He said colleges are set up to promote the institution, but the smart person should simply show up and talk to students about the facilities, professors, classes and food services. He said that is how to get the real low-down.
He said that going to college orientations is important because at those meetings, a person will meet people who will be of help.
He advised getting textbooks early in order to avoid long lines, and knowing where my classes would meet will save me time when classes begin.
I was told by Dean Cady that I would need to know my goals and that I was more likely to finish my degree faster at a small private college as opposed to a large state university. He had graduated from Lake Forest, so I understood his comment.
When I met with him the second time, which was during the second semester, he was more specific about how to succeed in college.
Mr. Cady gave me a list of 10 rules he said would pave the way to college success, and here are the rules:
1 – Always be on time for classes and do not cut a class except in an emergency because professors take attendance and may penalize a student grade-wise for taking more than two cuts.
2 – Be prepared for class.
3 – Make certain that your academic counselor is a professor in your field of study.
4 – Study a lesson as though you will be teaching it.
5 – Choose a major early on or you will be in college for more than four years, and once you have determined your major, stick with it.
6 – Take as many classes in your field with a professor you like.
7 – Study in the library: it is quiet and resources are readily available.
8 – Sit in the front row of your classrooms and volunteer answers because that is how professors will get to know you.
9 – Take careful notes and keep a separate notebook for each class. Most test questions come from class notes.
10 – Use study cards, write a question/problem/term on one side of a 3×5 index card and the answer/solution on the other side, and review these cards daily.
Mr. Cady asked me if I was going to apply for a scholarship, and I told him I was going to take a scholarship exam in the fall.
I followed the 10 rules to the letter, and my college years went smoothly.
Yes, I passed the scholarship exam, and I attribute this to the well-taught classes I took at OPRF High School.
John Stanger is a lifelong resident of Oak Park, a 1957 graduate of OPRF High School, married with three grown children and five grandchildren, and a retired English professor (Elmhurst College). Living two miles from where he grew up, he hasn’t gotten far in 79 years.