Popular culture often depicts successful students as brilliant overachievers who excel at everything they do. In “Legally Blonde,” Elle Woods gets top scores at law school while looking effortlessly stylish; in the “Harry Potter” series, Hermione Granger learns every magic spell with ease. But real students don’t need to be geniuses or wizards to thrive in school. Discover what makes a successful student and the top five ways to become a better student.
How To Define Success in School
What is a successful student? Some people assume that top learners always have high IQs or spend endless hours studying. Despite these stereotypes, all types of students can excel academically.
Typically, successful learners share these characteristics:
- Conscientious. Studies reveal that conscientiousness is the number one predictor of student success. Learners with this trait are goal-oriented, highly organized, and responsible. They have a strong desire to complete their work to the best of their ability, which often results in stellar academic achievement.
- Excellent time management skills. High-performing students self-regulate their learning and use time effectively. They generally start working on projects well before the deadline and submit assignments on time to avoid grade penalties.
- Openness. Top students often have agreeable and open personalities. They have strong communication skills and enjoy collaborating with their peers on group projects and in-class activities.
- Passion for learning. According to a 2021 study, a genuine love of learning may be the secret to student success. The researchers discovered that students who feel passionate about education self-regulate their learning more effectively. Additionally, enthusiasm prevents students from feeling bored or stressed about schoolwork.
- Self-efficacy. Learners with strong self-efficacy feel confident in their ability to accomplish goals and navigate challenges. These students tend to perform better academically than people with low self-confidence.
No one is born with any of these abilities. With effort and the right techniques, you can develop each of these traits to increase your academic success.
5 Strategies for Student Success
Many learners want to do better in school, but it’s not always easy to know how to be a successful student. These five techniques for academic success can help you develop strong study habits and improve your educational performance.
1. Set Goals and Prioritize Tasks
Establishing clear goals is one of the most effective ways to be successful in school. According to a 2021 study, 100% of elementary students who set self-selected goals made measurable academic improvements, and 77% accomplished their goals.
Set yourself up for success by creating specific and realistic objectives. The best goals push you to improve yourself, but they’re not so difficult that they discourage you. Your goals may include earning high grades on assignments, developing specific skills, or reaching milestones. For instance, you could aim to get an A on your physics final or learn how to play an advanced song on the piano.
Once you’ve set your goal, write a prioritized list of smaller tasks that will help you get to your destination. If you want to ace your physics exam, you should study each chapter and take practice exams. And daily piano practice can prepare you to tackle your goal song. These subtasks will help you stay motivated and on track to meet your goal.
2. Create a Schedule and Stay Organized
Students often need to juggle a long list of responsibilities. You may need to complete chores, do homework, go to work, and participate in student organizations. A study schedule ensures that you make enough time for your education.
Follow these tips to create your schedule:
- Write all the due dates for your class assignments on your calendar.
- Work backward from the due dates to determine what you must do to complete each assignment. For example, you may need to write a proposal and do research for an essay.
- Estimate how long each task will take based on previous experience and your learning style. For instance, you may easily read books but need to replay video lectures several times for comprehension.
- Create blocks of time for each academic activity, like studying for math class and reading for English.
- Block off time for other priorities, like social activities and sleep.
- Find a study buddy to help you stay accountable.
3. Pay Attention in Class and Participate Actively
Class participation contributes to success at school. Students who actively engage with their peers and teachers get more out of each class session. Additionally, participation allows you to develop essential skills like critical thinking and communication.
Each teacher has different criteria for class participation, but you can improve your engagement with these strategies:
- Prepare ahead of time by taking notes on the day’s readings.
- Approach discussions with an open mind and listen thoughtfully to your peers’ opinions.
- Ask questions about concepts or instructions you don’t understand.
- Try to contribute at least one or two times per class discussion.
- Don’t dominate the conversation.
4. Practice Time Management
Effective time management does more than help you meet deadlines. This skill also boosts academic performance, life satisfaction, and well-being. Take control of your time by:
- Writing daily or weekly to-do lists
- Prioritizing tasks and tackling the most critical projects first
- Tracking how you spend your time to find areas you can improve
- Breaking big projects into bite-sized jobs to help you stay motivated
- Planning frequent study sessions instead of trying to cram the material the night before an exam
5. Seek Help When Needed
Sometimes, even the best students need expert help to know how to be successful in school. Developing a solid support network can help you excel. For example, a guidance counselor can help you explore college opportunities and find scholarships. Similarly, a tutor will help you master complex material and meet personal goals.
How To Build a Strong Foundation for Future Success
What makes a student successful can be subjective. You may aim to be a straight-A student, while another learner feels like they’ve achieved something huge if they earn a B in their hardest class. As long as you set goals and take steps to work toward them, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of every class.
Meeting with a tutor is one of the best ways to ensure you meet your goals. Alexander Math & Physics Tutoring empowers students to deepen their knowledge and gain lifelong study skills. Contact us today to schedule an online tutoring appointment with one of our enthusiastic tutors.