Starting off for your first year of college can be a great experience. You will hear so much information about doing well in your classes, how to get along socially and even advice on how to keep your finances in order. All are very important. You primary goal is your education. Get that extra help wherever you can find it. Tutorial services, professor office hours, extra group sessions among friends and the list go on. One thing that not many will talk about because many think it should already be ingrained in every student and that is “character” or manners.
Character education includes everyone and is done at home with your parents, throughout your primary and secondary education and through various organizations. I bring up this topic as a reminder to all new freshman or any other person reading this that because we leave home to experience new things, we should not forget our ethics, our morals or values.
I am currently taking a physical education class at the local community college. Hanging on the walls in, what is called, the Life Fitness Center are banners from a program called CHARACTER COUNTS! This program is great at many different levels reminding us all about six important ethical values. These ethical values should be common sense incorporating values that are not political, religious, or even culturally biased.
Trustworthiness: Be honest. Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal. Be reliable – do what you say you’ll do. Have the courage to do the right thing. Build a good reputation. Be loyal – stand by your family, friends, and country.
Respect: Treat others with respect, follow the Golden Rule. Be tolerant and accepting of differences. Use good manners, not bad language. Be considerate of the feelings of others. Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone. Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements.
Responsibility: Do what you are supposed to do. Plan ahead. Persevere: keep on trying! Always do your best. Use self-control. Be self-disciplined. Think before you act – consider the consequences. Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes. Set a good example for others.
Fairness: Play by the rules. Take turns and share. Be open-minded; listen to others. Don’t take advantage of others. Don’t blame others carelessly. Treat all people fairly.
Caring: Be kind. Be compassionate and show you care. Express gratitude. Forgive others. Help people in need.
Citizenship: Do your share to make your school and community better. Cooperate. Get involved in community affairs. Stay informed; vote. Be a good neighbor. Obey laws and rules. Respect authority. Protect the environment. Volunteer.
I have noticed the lack of these values on and off campus from many students: a healthy young man not giving up his seat to an elderly patron on the city bus, students spitting in the water fountains, dropping trash for someone else to pick up. Do not get me wrong, I have also noticed the opposite: caring individuals helping a handicapped woman with groceries, a young woman asking if an out-of-wind older man needed some assistance, the simple use of please and thank you when asking for things.
It is important not to forget who we are as we grow and learn from every situation we encounter in life. And much of that happenstance we will experience in our college years. Good luck in your education and growing as an ethical and moralistic individual.