How to Succeed at Quest

This is about how many books I had to read in my Fate and Virtue class. Via:

In general I’m fairly wary about the advice I give students who are coming to Quest. Everyone has different ways of doing things and who’s to say that my experience will be the same as every one else’s. That being said, after being here three years I feel like I’ve learned enough to give some pre arrival advice that most people will probably forget almost immediately, and I’m okay with that. Even if this blog post just serves to calm some people’s fears or to get a glimpse into my perspective of academia here, then it’s somewhat useful. So all disclaimers aside, here is the definitive Daniel Shankman guide to succeeding at Quest.

I’ll start with my own story. I came to Quest straight out of public high school in Bellingham, WA, eager to engage in absolutely everything. Coming off strong grades in high school I was admittedly pretty cocky about going to Quest, I was used to a world where just doing the work meant getting A’s. I found out pretty quickly that university is very different than that. Rhetoric was the worst grade I’ve ever gotten at Quest because I wasn’t prepared for the level of commitment needed to excel. That being said, no one should be scared of the classes at Quest, especially Rhetoric. Everyone has the potential to succeed at Quest, just be prepared to potentially put in much more work time than you did in high school. With this in mind, here are some tips for academic success at Quest.

Time Management

Time management, time management, time management. If there is one thing that will be critical to your academic success at Quest it is managing your time effectively. Unlike other schools, you won’t be given two weeks to complete a paper, you will be given two days. If you want to limit your stress and maximize success, the key is to get started early.

Effort and Determination

This may seem like an obvious one, and it’s true that these traits are beneficial in multiple scenarios, including Quest. When you don’t have a lot of time to complete homework it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t come together as fast as you want them to. I’ve spent hours combing through research just to write a single paragraph, and I’ve completely deleted a paper and started over the night before it’s due. These things can be incredibly frustrating and luckily they don’t happen too often, but when they do, staying motivated and putting in the effort to finish is what you need.


Engagement is a very important part of our school. Being in small class’ means you can’t hide in the back and mentally check out for the duration of class. Almost every single class grade has a participation component and being an active member of the classroom is the fastest way to benefit you and your classmates learning. Being engaged is also a critical part of campus life. With so much going on at Quest it’s easy to busy yourself with work and never attend any events. However, being involved at least a little bit outside of the classroom will make lasting social connections and help support the events that you attend.

Seek Help

I’m going to preface this one by saying this should generally never be your first resort academically. There is a lot to gain from struggling through a difficult math problem or trying to piece together some crazy logic problem and then you get that euphoric eureka moment when you have a breakthrough. Don’t deny yourself those eureka moments! That being said, Quest is basically built on collaboration so asking your peers for help is always welcome. In a “professional” setting, the learning commons is a great place to get some help with anything and everything, especially in the first few months when you’re adjusting to the university standard of work. If you’re peers are just as lost as you are, you’re in luck! Going to a small school means your teachers should be very accessible and they all have office hours before or after class for students to get some extra help if needed.

In the end, no advice can replace the lessons you’re going to learn at Quest in your years here. So the most important (and now slightly ironic) advice is just to enjoy your time here and learn what works best for you.


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