Today was the first day of a new quarter, which means lots of students are setting new academic goals. Based on my interactions with students over the years, here are 10 things successful college students do:
- Go to office hours.
Taking advantage of office hours is critical to academic success. Office hours are an opportunity to build a one-on-one connection with the professor. In addition to advice on homework assignments or feedback from the last test, spending time in office hours could lead to a letter of recommendation, an undergraduate research opportunity, or helpful career advice.
- Get involved.
Research supports that student involvement increases academic success. Successful students engage in their learning in- and out-side the classroom. They participate in discussion groups, attend educational events, join clubs, and give back to their communities.
- Study in groups.
Study groups can reduce procrastination, help students overcome difficulties understanding the material, get new perspectives, and develop interpersonal skills. Studying alone has benefits but can also easily lead to distraction, social isolation, and boredom.
- Go to the library.
Studying in the library can help many students focus better. The library has fewer distractions than a bedroom or residence hall. The library also has useful resources such as helpful librarians, textbooks on reserve, group study rooms, and assistive technology.
- Take responsibility.
Successful students do not blame others or make excuses. They realize that they have control of their choices, actions, and behaviors. They own up to mistakes and look for ways they can improve next time.
- Aren’t afraid to fail.
Failure is an important part of the learning process. Successful students do not let the fear of failure prevent them from taking risks, being creative, trying new activities, and stepping outside their comfort zone.
- Utilize resources.
Successful students do not try to do everything on their own. There are extensive resources on campus for students. These resources include, but are not limited to, advising centers, careers services, study skills workshops, writing center, and counseling services.
- Hang out with healthy people.
Behaviors and attitudes are contagious. Success has a lot to do with who students choose to surround themselves with.
- Have a mentor.
A close mentoring relationship with a faculty member, advisor, resident hall director, or another staff member is an important part of college success. Mentors can provide career connections, encouragement, support, and advocacy – all things that college students need.
10. Use their voice.
Self-advocacy, self-expression, and self-actualization are different forms of using voice. The ability of students to realize their full potential is linked to their ability to communicate, be their authentic selves, pursue their passions, and express their feelings. Successful students know themselves, know what they need, and can express their needs.