- Paperback: 258 pages
- Publisher: Morgan James Publishing (March 1, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 161448127X
- ISBN-13: 978-1614481270
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success Paperback – March 1, 2012
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“I’m going to encourage all of my students to read The Happy Student! If you follow Daniel’s advice, your quality of life as a student is sure to improve. Daniel aims to help students find intrinsic motivation in their academic pursuits. It often seems like we don’t care about whether students are intrinsically motivated or not—we just care that they get good grades. But Daniel understands that intrinsic motivation is vital if you want to be truly successful, not just in your academics, but in life, too. In The Happy Student, Daniel teaches you the principles and strategies that will enable you to find academic success and fulfillment. High school and college students—and their parents and teachers, too—will benefit from reading The Happy Student. In fact, anyone who wants to be both happy and successful will gain a lot by taking Daniel’s advice to heart.”
-Walter N. Simmons, engineering professor and inventor
"In this meticulously reasoned work, Daniel Wong challenges students—and non-students too—to seize control of their lives and their happiness. He provides a solid five-step program that will prevent you from running someone else’s race and striving for someone else’s goals. By sharing with readers his experiences, Daniel advocates effectively for defining and pursuing your own individualized course toward success and personal fulfillment."
-Katie Barzee, environmental advocate and recent college graduate
“The Happy Student is the sort of book you think you’ve seen before but actually haven’t. It is, above all, truly written by a student for other students. Plenty of other books preach concepts that seem (and can actually be) impractical, so it was surprising—even to myself—how easily some of the ideas Daniel Wong presents could be applied to my own life. Just to give an example, I chose to adopt the idea of writing with a nicer pen (this is a tip Daniel talks about in the final chapter), and I found that my work productivity greatly improved. I’m not sure if this was a direct result of having a new pen, or if there were other psychological factors at work. All I know is that this is one of many practical and effective techniques that Daniel suggests in The Happy Student. I truly enjoyed every page of this book.”
-Brandon Yap, high school senior
“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong explains that his wish to help and empower others is a motivating factor in every action he takes; his debut as an author is clearly aligned with this life philosophy. Daniel’s advice for frustrated, stressed-out, and overwhelmed students is concrete and easy to apply, but this alone isn’t what makes The Happy Student so helpful to students seeking fulfillment. Rather, it is Daniel’s genuine voice and uninhibited passion for his subject matter that will inspire his readers. Daniel understands that happiness often precedes success, not the other way around. The Happy Student will help readers embrace Daniel’s unique vision.”
-Allison LeCavalier, college student
“While most education-related books focus solely on the outcome, The Happy Student continually re-visits the importance of the journey. If you’re a student, or even if you’re a young person who’s just entering the workforce, Daniel's advice will help you find fulfillment beyond just building a great résumé. In a humble and conversational style, Daniel shows you that setting goals and determining your core values are not simply means to achievement but rather crucial steps toward finding lifelong happiness."
-Nick Valilis, pre-med college student
“The Happy Student provides a wonderful tool-kit for students of all ages who want to find real fulfillment in their personal and academic pursuits. As an education professional who has worked with ambitious high school and college students in the United States and abroad for more than ten years, I believe that Daniel Wong has vividly and accurately analyzed the phenomenon of “collecting” achievements in the blind pursuit of success. Daniel uses playful analogies, reflective questions, and practical tips to help readers unpack their experiences in a meaningful and intentional way. I love that his writing style is so accessible to all readers, regardless of what life stage they are in. Daniel presents the building blocks that will enable readers to become more self-aware and reflective, and to take concrete action. I look forward to sharing The Happy Student with young people everywhere as they develop their plans for their academic, professional, and personal journeys.”
-Cloe Liparini, M.A., Assistant Director for Training and Student Development with DukeEngage, Duke University
“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong provides a refreshing change of focus for young people. His message: rather than simply jumping through hoops, you can choose to focus on a vision for yourself and your future. Daniel helps students bring together their goals, strengths, and values, crafting a life plan that will be meaningful and personally satisfying. While the questions and issues he raises are directed toward teenagers and young adults, his message resonates with all age groups.”
-Susan Sykes, educational consultant
“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong shows you how to maximize your potential as a student using practical strategies. Daniel encourages readers to have an intentional approach toward learning, and to take full responsibility for their own education. If you participate actively in the five-step program Daniel has developed, you’ll find that—by the end of the program—your attitude toward education has changed completely. You’ll discover that education is about much more than trying to get good grades. It’s about cultivating a love for learning and for life, and about becoming a person of character. After reading The Happy Student, both students and parents will understand how to set goals that are in line with their core values. The Happy Student is a book I wish I’d read before going to college! I’ll definitely encourage my friends and family to read it. This might sound strange, but reading The Happy Student has been a truly enlightening experience for me. I’m deeply thankful to Daniel for having the courage to write this book. He has the extraordinary ability to inspire, encourage, and motivate through his writing.”
-Moon Limb, recent college graduate
“In this book, Daniel Wong has captured not only the essence of how to be a happy student, but also how to be a happy person in general. We’ve all been students at some point in our lives and—in a sense—we’ll always remain students, because we’re constantly learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge. Everyone will be able to relate to The Happy Student, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, especially high school and college students.”
-Hwi Jong Quek, entrepreneur and recent college graduate
“In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong talks about the many students who are running the race that others want them to run, instead of their own race. I was one of those students. As I frantically pursued one academic accolade after another, I seemed to drift further away from contentment, satisfaction, and a deeper sense of purpose. If you’re a student who has faced this dilemma before, this book is for you. Daniel helps readers to see that education is meant to be deeply meaningful. He shows readers that, with the right strategies and mindset, they can achieve great things while also attaining great personal fulfillment. Daniel tackles head-on many of the hardest challenges today’s students face. He offers concrete tools to tackle these challenges with clarity, poise, and commitment. From my experiences in many different academic settings, the students who confront these challenges bravely and effectively are the ones who best position themselves for future success. They’re also the students who have the most fun. The Happy Student is both incisive and highly readable. It incorporates a wide breath of scholarship and is written in an easily accessible style. This is one book you simply must read if you’re a student—especially if you’re an ambitious go-getter. I can offer no stronger endorsement for The Happy Student than my pledge to give it to every student in my life whom I care deeply about.”
-Avishek Panth, nuclear engineer and recent college graduate
“One of the best things about being a professor is learning from your students. While reading The Happy Student, I learned from Daniel Wong, a young man who took my accounting class during his senior year at Duke. Everyone yearns for happiness, success, and fulfillment, but these things often seem elusive. In The Happy Student, Daniel shows you the steps you need to take in order to simultaneously achieve them. The Happy Student will inspire, challenge, and encourage you to embrace the deeper meaning of education. Daniel has taken an honest and introspective look at education from a student’s perspective. He has developed a meaningful road map for high school and college students who want to find real fulfillment in their academics and beyond. The Happy Student is insightful reading for students AND their parents!”
-C.J. Skender, accounting professor and co-author of Financial Accounting
“The Happy Student is the perfect book for anyone who has felt trapped in their journey to success. Wong uses great analogies, heart-felt anecdotes, and vivid descriptions to communicate important principles and practical advice to any student who wishes to find fulfillment in life.”
-Catalina Hidalgo, Teach For America corps member
"Daniel’s enthusiasm for life is inspiring, and his dedication to helping students find meaning in the pursuit of academic success is admirable. A culmination of his varied life experiences and thoughtful reflections, this is an important book for high school and college students, as well as recent college graduates, to read—especially those who wonder if there’s more to life than chasing after achievements."
-Eugene Luah, recent law school graduate
“The Happy Student is a must-read for teachers who, like me, are just starting out. Having just stepped into the arena of education, these teachers are idealistic: they want nothing more than to impact, challenge, and motivate their students. In The Happy Student, Daniel Wong shows teachers that they can be both idealistic and pragmatic. Daniel describes practical strategies that will help teachers to help their students achieve academic success. He also extends a steadfast reminder about the joy of learning. After reading The Happy Student, I’ve decided that I’ll never rob my students of that joy! Most importantly, Daniel addresses the obsession that many students have with grades. He explains how students can find intrinsic value in learning, rather than merely focusing on achievements. The Happy Student offers a golden perspective on the true worth of education.”
-Charmaine Tay, high school English and history teacher
“I met Daniel Wong in college. Even after having known him for four years, Daniel’s excellence and motivation remained somewhat of a mystery to me. In The Happy Student, Daniel lets all of his secrets out. Not only does he include many of his own experiences to enrich the material, but he’s also able to integrate the works of today’s most renowned authors with the age-old wisdom of people like Mark Twain and Maya Angelou to formulate an effective five-step program that will lead you to find fulfillment both inside and outside the classroom. The Happy Student is a wonderful resource for any student who wants to make the most out of his or her education.”
-Brian Solomon, mechanical engineering graduate student and entrepreneur
“The Happy Student is great for students, but it’s also suitable for people who have already completed their formal education. Daniel introduces effective strategies to help you find meaning in the pursuit of scholastic achievement. These strategies are even applicable outside the realm of academics! They will help you discover the joy of learning and develop a strong sense of purpose. The Happy Student will ultimately lead you to greater personal achievement and satisfaction.”
-Norman Gottron, process development engineer and recent college graduate
About the Author
Daniel Wong graduated from Duke University in 2011 with a double major in mechanical engineering and economics. He is passionate about education and has given numerous talks to students about topics such as goal-setting, time management, college life skills and developing a personal vision for your life. He also gave a TEDx talk at Duke University in April 2011.
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I'm someone who underwent a similar transformation at the end of my sophomore year of college. I went from having my self-worth depend heavily on grades to feeling liberated to chart my own learning and career path. It was one of the best turning points in my life and helped me set (and achieve!) more remarkable goals than I had dared to dream up before. I really hope that more people can feel similarly empowered, even earlier in their lives (high school, anyone?).
If you haven't heard (yeah, right), there is enormous peer pressure at top-tier universities to conform and pursue careers seen as lucrative or prestigious, like investment banking and medicine. While it's fine to pursue such careers, it's important to do so for the right reasons. Wong provides a practical framework to help young people start asking difficult questions and reflect on who they want to be at the end of it all. As he writes, "At the end of the day, I'm convinced that it's not what you've done that counts; it's who you've become."
Wong gets us pumped up with the end goal: "[Truly] successful people don't usually do the `safe' thing. They don't focus on doing what's practical or what will help them `get ahead.' They don't pursue a comfortable life. Instead, they commit themselves to a cause greater than themselves, a cause they care deeply about. They live with a sense of calling, purpose, and adventure. Above all, they live a life of integrity and character."
The book is a quick, accessible, and inspiring read. But the true value comes from attempting the exercises (crafting your personal definition for success and setting and regularly reviewing your goals).
Wong's 5-step framework for change is simple and directly actionable:
I. Decide to run your own race
- The first and most important step. "Taking full responsibility for your life."
II. Decide what kind of race to run
- Thinking about death and the kind of legacy you want to leave behind.
III. Start running and stay on track
- Setting effective goals and reviewing them regularly.
IV. Keep running despite your fears
- Techniques for overcoming your fears.
V. Stay motivated, stay strong
- Seeing motivation as a habit rather than as a feeling.
- Tools for keeping motivation high, based on the fact that we are emotional beings and "often make decisions based on how we feel rather than on what's best for us."
If every disempowered yet high-achieving student read this book, I believe the world would be a much better place. Because things like character and integrity don't get graded and evaluated each semester, it's critical that students - who will most likely become leaders someday! - make time to reflect on where they are headed and why.
At the end of the day, yes, this is a mildly cheesy self-help book. But that makes no less powerful a tool for change. You will get out of it what you put in. Although I'm no longer a student, I found the book to be an enormously useful guide for reflecting on my personal goals and starting a conversation (with myself) about whether I'm on track or not. I hope to share it with high school and college students who are in the thick of the rat race and would benefit from some hard reflection earlier, rather than later. One book - and the revelations it can unlock - can have a massive impact on someone's life. (That's why I like giving books as gifts. It also helps that they're affordable. Hehe...)
One caveat for would-be readers: this book may be less relatable to those who are not already high achievers, but anyone (even non-students! Don't let the title fool you!) who is determined to change can find value in the inspiring prose and recommended exercises.
Nor are the examples "canned" (like most other self-help books). Wong's exercises and examples are simple and digestible, but profound and powerful in their brevity. I appreciate Mr. Wong's own life experiences which present real-world grounding without falling into confession. Daniel Wong talks with an unprepossessing wisdom, quite remarkable given his young age. His suggestions are gentle and simple, his attitude nuanced and conversational.
Being an educational professional, I'm especially tough on self-help books. Most of them offer easy, cliched answers to complex, comprehensive problems. This book is a notable exception. Wong says that you have to take the difficult journey, but also that the "difficult" need not be torturous. A difficult path can also include joy. Your journey can be one of fulfilling self-discovery in the face of adversity.
Even though there aren't patent answers along this journey, there ARE useful principles to focus upon. The principles Wong offers, in my professional opinion, stand up to actual life tests and provide a useful support for decision making.
I am no longer a college student, quite a few years removed, in fact. However, I still found this book applicable to my situation. I am starting an entrepreneurial online learning consultant business, and I found nuggets in this book that can be applied to self-educating and adjusting within career changes.
I highly recommend the book. Buy it, and share it.