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What makes a successful student (in the sense of a person who passes his or her classes and potentially goes on to graduate)?

I began thinking about this after reading “The Neuroscience of Effort,” Jonah Lehrer’s recent post in the Wired Science Blog The Frontal Cortex. The piece discusses a new study of our brains’ inner workings as they struggle to stay focused on tasks and avoid distraction and procrastination. This eternal struggle surely has applied at some time or another to every student; and since college students have a heavy learning workload, this particular brain-victory seems vital to collegiate success.

While experts explore the brain’s inner workings, we know that success, too, can only begin with a striking word in this article’s title: “effort.” Maybe it’s obvious that one must expend effort to achieve, but I believe the capacity for hard work is a trait many incoming college students underestimate. In many cases, students will need to work more strenuously than was ever required before, academically. At the community college, I’ve seen many bright students who simply don’t apply their potential to their studies. Of course, some deliberately decide college doesn’t suit them, and they may find success elsewhere. For those who stick around, though, I’ve observed a few shared traits among the successful:

-solid work ethic (they’re willing to put in time and effort; also, they’re responsible individuals)
resilience (they don’t crumble in the face of an obstacle, such as a poor grade or a personal setback)
perseverance (related to resilience: they’ve made their minds up to finish what they need to finish, and they do)
self-discipline (along with work ethic, they also have self-restraint, the ability to think before an immediate and emotional reaction to a situation)

In short, if you wish to thrive in college, work hard and don’t give up, be tough, and be in control of yourself. Incidentally, these traits are also much-needed in the workplace; and they’ll go a long way in personal relationships as well.

What other traits contribute to student success? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.

Related posts:
“Why Struggling in Class Can Be Good”
“College as Rude Awakening?”
“Jump in There and Make Mistakes!”

Image via mrg.bz / wallyir

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