8 characteristics of highly successful students.
I am a big believer that you can be successful in whatever you choose. I also strongly believe that good habits can be learned. Over the past 10 years of working with children of all ages, I have always wondered why some students were successful and why others weren’t. As I began to look at patterns among my students, I found that success wasn’t due to intelligence, but rather to a few key traits that each successful student displayed. Here is my list of 8 key traits that almost all successful students share.
- They set goals.
I tell our tutors that students need guidance. For some students, this means helping them look for a destination they want to travel to. Once students have determined their destination point, then we take our road map out and plot how we are going to get there. It’s important to have goals. These goals can be either short distance destinations or long ones, but without having a goal in mind it will be difficult for any student to find the right roads to travel.
A goal can be as simple as raising your math score by five percent. A long-term goal could be to get into UCL A. Whatever your goal is, write it down and begin to plot how you will achieve it. It all starts with having goals!
- They are prepared.
Even though you have set your goals and found the roads you need to take to achieve them, you know that you are going to encounter some obstacles and setbacks along the way. It’s similar to your road trip vacation; you could get halfway to your destination and suddenly get a flat tire. But is that going to stop you from getting to your vacation spot? No way! It may cause some inconvenience, but it’s a minor setback. You will get it fixed and be on your way.
Nothing is perfect or easy. Being aware that you will encounter obstacles will help you keep your eye on your ultimate goal! Prepare for these setbacks by giving yourself plenty of study time, asking questions and seeking help when needed, and being aware of potential obstacles. Don’t look at one failure as a sign that you won’t reach your goal. Look at it as what it is: a minor setback. Just as you wouldn’t stop your vacation for a flat tire, you won’t stop studying and preparing because you had one low score on a test!
- They are focused.
As I discussed earlier, you are going to encounter some challenges, mistakes, and failures. You may feel disappointed, worried, or stressed about these challenges. It’s okay to feel that way for a short period of time; these feelings are what make you human. Let yourself feel these emotions, but as soon as you can, start turning your attention to more positive things and continue working toward your goals.
I’ve had many failures and have felt horrible about them. Each time I fail, I reflect on my failure to see what I did wrong. If needed, I seek help and ask questions to improve so that I won’t make the same mistakes again. This is the process of LEARNING. After each failure, you must refocus your energy toward your GOAL. If you do this, you will succeed.
- They are committed.
Many people can do all of the above for a short period of time. The trick is committing and sticking to it for the long haul. Challenges and failures will present themselves to you and you are going to want to quit. Those who succeed fight to the end and don’t give up no matter how tough the situation gets. Set your goals and make a long-term commitment!
We teach, and encourage a love of learning, collaboration, and compassion. Everyone a learner everyday.
- They do more than required.
One thing I tell my students is, “shoot for the stars!” The worst thing that can happen is you can fall a tad short, which is better than not trying at all. In my college English class, I had a 98% going into finals. Based on the total number of points in the class and the final, I could totally bomb the test and still end up with an 85%. This would still be a good grade, but I didn’t look at it that way. The way I saw it, I needed to study just as hard as I normally did, and if there were opportunities to gain extra points, I would take them. A lot of my friend asked me why I put in so much extra effort when I could put in a moderate amount of effort and still get an A. But I didn’t want to take my foot off the gas, and I try to impart this same attitude on my students. I tell them to never feel comfortable and to always do more if the opportunity arises. In the end, you may fall a few points short but you put in quality effort and that guarantees your success!
- They stay organized.
Organization is important. However, organization can look very different to different people. Some students may seem to me to be very disorganized but may in fact have a system that makes perfect sense for them. Whether you like writing notes on pieces of paper or using Google calendars, all that matters is that you have a system that works well for you – preferably one that shows you upcoming important dates and events!
- They review and ask questions when they don’t understand.
I have realized over the years that a lot of students just don’t understand what studying actually means. I have met students that do only what is asked of them, like their homework. That should be enough, right? Not necessarily. Homework is the minimum requirement, and if you just do the minimum, unfortunately, you will likely fall short of your goal. You have to spend time reviewing the material and finding the areas where you have trouble. If you don’t understand the material, you have to ask questions. Then, you need to spend time honing and practicing the skills you struggle with and reviewing to ensure that you are ready for your test. The are many facets to studying; only doing your homework isn’t going to cut it.
- They don’t procrastinate.
Most students cannot get away with waiting until the last minute to complete a project or study for a test. When I was younger, I quickly learned that waiting until the final minute to study or finish a project causes way too many difficulties. Procrastinating won’t leave you with enough time to do your best work, review, adjust, or ask questions, so the end result will be insufficient. Give yourself time to put forward the best work you can, planning your steps and completing a little bit of work each day.