I’ve asked thousands of college educators to identify the behaviors that they see their successful students doing consistently throughout the semester. Here is some of their advice:

  • Attend every class and be on time.
  • Do all of your assignments to the best of your ability and come to every class fully prepared.
  • Participate actively in every class: ask questions, volunteer for activities, answer questions.
  • Get to know your professors: go to their office hours, help sessions, etc.
  • Party only on weekends.
  • Display behaviors that reflect interest in learning: be on time, sit in “T” area, ask questions, etc.
  • Be realistic about your goals.  If you have difficulty in math, you probably shouldn’t pursue an engineering degree.  If you work 40 hours a week you will probably not be able to be successful in 18 semester hours of school.
  • Be a responsible participant in your education.  Do not rely on counselors, advisors, coaches, or anyone else to tell you what you need to fulfill to graduate.  Read the catalog and be accountable for your own education; it affects no one more than you!
  • Find any resource centers available (math, writing, libraries, etc.) and USE THEM.
  • Meet at least two people in each of your classes who are willing to exchange phone numbers and be contacted–for when you miss class, need to get information, or just to see if they want to study together.
  • Write down your goals and read them nightly. Renew your commitment to success regularly!
  • Plan your week and stick to it as much as possible.  Time management skills are a valuable tool for success.
  • Learn about all the resources available to help you achieve your goals: your instructor, instructor assistants, honor students, class advisor, topic workshops, classmates who may act as study partners, as well as support from family.
  • Use positive self-talk; believing you can do it is powerful!
  • Discover your preferred learning style.
  • Talk to as many people as possible, both in the classes you are taking and out, about approaches for LEARNING the material; then use as many of the approaches as you can to find the study methods that work best for you.

Possible activities based on this list:

  1. Number the actions in order from most important to least important.  Be prepared to explain your answers.
  2. Write a paragraph using one of these actions as your topic sentence.
  3. Interview your [math, English, psychology, favorite, least favorite, etc.] teacher, asking what actions he/she believes is most important for your success in that course.
  4. Interview college seniors [sophomores at a community college], asking what actions they believe have been most influential in their academic success.

–Skip Downing, Facilitator, On Course Workshop, Skip@OnCourseWorkshop.com

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