What does it REALLY take to be a successful student?

Everyone seems to be looking for the perfect recipe on how to be a successful student. The recipe varies from student to student and the quantity of ingredients changes as students change. However, there are certain recurring qualities and actions that lead to the most successful students.

            The first important feature is understanding the “why” behind the student’s motivation. This important aspect is oftentimes overlooked because students are expected to go to school and graduate. While that mandate exists, the better job we do to understand a student’s true motivation, the better we can keep them engaged.

Graduation from high school and going to college is not a “Why”.

Becoming a doctor or a lawyer is not a “Why”.

Those are just means to an end. Perhaps a student had a family member get sick from cancer and they want to become a doctor to help with research and advancement. That deeply rooted cause is the “Why”. It is important to know what drives the student to better show them how their first step of high school graduation is eminent in all future steps.

           The second key feature is time management. This can mean different things to different students so understanding how a person best operates is helpful in planning out a guide for success throughout not only their high school career but all future endeavors. It is important to identify whether a student is task or time centered. A task-centered student will look at a calendar and set a progress goal of completion. For example, making sure to complete my homework by Friday. These students commit large sections of time knowing they must invest the time to get the results. Other students are more time-focused. They construct their schedule from a time perspective such as committing to 30 minutes per day, or 1 hour on specific days. Once the student is identified as being task or time centered, a schedule can be created which plays to their strength and builds successful habits.            

          The third key element that regularly emerges is being responsible for one’s own learning. This should not be confused with having to teach themselves content. Students should take the steps needed to seek out resources to be successful. Rather than feeling as if things just happened to work out, this type of quality focuses on the person taking action steps to reaching their goals. This type of ownership allows students to see and feel a more comprehensive sense of success as their day to day actions led to that success.

          Are there more qualities that can lead to student success? Of course! There are infinite assets that one can possess to help be successful; however, almost any additional quality can be categorized under being motivated, a good time-manager, and proactive.


Rony Assali