Dr. Stephen Jones is college administrator at Villanova University. He received his bachelor’s degree in community psychology and doctorate in education from Widener University, as well as a masters in education from Howard University and an MBA from Philadelphia University. Dr. Jones is the author of Seven Secrets of How to Study, the Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide and the Ultimate Scholarship Guide.
Why did you choose this career path?
When I was a child living in West Philadelphia I developed a passion for getting involved in the community. That led to a discovery that too many children were not getting a good education. I decided that I would do something about it and I went to college to study community psychology. After graduating from college I found that I could make big changes by being a part of the education system and I have worked in a variety of colleges for 28 years. Over the years I have also worked with K – 12 students to improve their academic preparation for college.
What do you enjoy the most about working in education?
I enjoy working with the students and witnessing their growth intellectually, emotionally and socially. I enjoy teaching students and counseling them concerning their career goals. There is so much advice that I am able to give to them while also serving as a mentor and advisor.
What is the greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge is ensuring that students do not drop out of college. Some students face difficulty because they have run out of money to pay for college. Other students realize that that were not adequately prepared to handle the amount of assignments requested by their instructors. In addition, some students find out they do not like the college that they have selected.
What is the best advice you would give to someone applying to college in general?
Preparation for your college application starts in the 9th grade. Each student should focus on earning their best grades during each year of their high school experience. Too many students take a vacation during their first year of high school. They do not realize that every grade counts. All students should get involved in leadership roles in organizations outside of their normal classes. College admissions officers like to read about students who understand the value of leadership.
What advice would you give to someone applying to Villanova?
Make sure to highlight your talents as you are writing your responses to the application questions. When you are answering the easy questions, tell a story about yourself that will make you stand out. Also take a SAT preparation course to learn how to achieve the best results on the test. Make sure that you visit the campus and talk to the students and faculty. Your enthusiasm for the college will show up, if you interview with one of the University alumni.
What are the biggest mistakes students make on their applications?
The biggest mistake is not taking time to write a unique essay for each application. It is better to take the time to develop new essay response for each college. The person who is reading the application should be able to feel the emotion in the content of the essay. Also, make sure that you application letter uses good grammar and spelling. Colleges want students who can demonstrate their ability to communicate.
What is the most important thing students need to know about studying that will make them successful in college?
It’s important to keep a schedule for time management. It will help you to stay on track. Students should make sure that they prepare for each test at least five days before the test will occur. Make sure that you have good notes and stay on top of all reading assignments. Students are always amazed at how much more reading they must do in comparison to their high school experience. Take time to meet with all of your instructors in their offices and come prepared with questions. It will help you to prepare for your next test.
What are the personality traits of some of your best students?
Some of the best students are very organized in terms of their planned study times. They do not allow other students to take them away from their study time. They have the ability to say, “No.” The best students always go beyond the class assignments in trying to learn more than the professor is providing. These students never give up because they have clear goals and they are willing to sacrifice to achieve their goals.
What was your favorite part of your college experience? Favorite course? Favorite extracurricular? Favorite professor?
My favorite course was psychology because of how it taught me to understand people. It is a skill that can be helpful in any profession. I enjoyed playing on my college football team. I had great time getting to know my teammates and many of them were studying a variety of subjects and we learned a lot from each other. My favorite professor was also my advisor. She brought great enthusiasm to every lesson and she wanted to make sure that we understood her lectures.