Habits of Successful College Students

Some of the most important characteristics of successful college students are not what many people think.  Often, we confuse habits and practices with characteristics.

While teaching a study skills course at a local community college, I asked my students what they thought it take to be successful in my class.  They came up with the standard responses:

  • Attend class.
  • Read the textbook.
  • Turn in assignments.
  • Study.
  • Study for tests.

I knew they would easily identify these habits and practices of successful students, but that was not what I was driving at.

Characteristics of Successful College Students

What are the characteristics of successful college students? Two students in a previous class convinced me of what I assumed was most important. I told my students a story about that class.

I was teaching the same study skills course. A percentage of students’ final grades was based how well they did on a special vocabulary test. This was a test I administered at the end of the course. Two out of 30 students did quite well on the vocabulary test. All 28 of the other students failed that test! The characteristics of the students who did well was that they were motivated.

How did I know that the two students who did well on the vocabulary exam were motivated? It was obvious. These two students were not born in the United States. They both had accents, and English was their second language. They were highly motivated to master the English language. Apparently, my other students felt their English skills were good enough.

Other Characteristics of Successful College Students

There are other characteristics of successful college students, and these will be addressed in future articles. However, motivation is clearly the most important.

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