Some people absolutely love to go to school and learn. Others really dread it but know it’s something they have to do. You may want to gain a certain skill or complete an education level so you can proceed to another level, or replace previous education with new learning to take your life in a different direction.
Whatever your situation, the goal is to acquire the knowledge you will need to go on to greater things in the future. With that in mind, let’s look at 6 qualities of successful students.
Believe in yourself
The successful student believes, “I belong here. I am intelligent. I’m a good person, and I want to acquire the knowledge I need to be an even better person.” The person that believes strongly in her or himself is focused on the long-term goal, and not what the number or letter grade was on the last quiz or exam.
Of course, you don’t want to go to the other extreme and believe grades have no value, but you realize that these are just tools to use to help you continue to learn more each day. You take each day as an opportunity to build on the previous day.
This might seem obvious, but it’s certainly very important. The organized person is a good time manager, knowing which projects will take the most time and allot time accordingly. Another part of being organized is prioritizing, knowing which projects need to be addressed first, and putting them in the priority position.
You plan out what you’re going to do, and then you execute that plan. Of course, you know when the exams and paper due dates are, but you also know what is going to be accomplished and expected from week to week.
When you are organized, you are much less prone to panic and trying to squeeze things in at the last minute.
Set a schedule
This doesn’t mean exactly what it sounds like. It’s not necessarily, “8 AM, class, 10 AM, 2 hours of study, 12 PM lunch” unless that’s the way you work best. If so, go ahead and map it out.
For others, when do you have the most energy? Is it right after class or after dinner? Is it early or late? It may be multiple times, such as mid-morning, then you have a lull in the afternoon, and more energy in the evening.
Find out when you have the most energy, and plan your studying around that time. There are other factors to consider when setting a schedule. Consider study time blocks. Studying isn’t much fun for most people, which means long periods of time of uninterrupted study doesn’t come easy.
Try having several small blocks of time, with a small reward after each one. This will keep you motivated and on track. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep! Whether your body needs 6, 7 or 8 hours to be completely refreshed, make sure you are getting those hours of rest so you will have a clear mind and better memory.
If the school is for learning, then it’s OK to ask questions. You can ask an instructor, friends, family or classmates. This will help ensure you have a full grasp on what’s being taught. Do not get caught up in any “what if people think that’s a stupid question” mindset.
If you don’t know, go ahead and ask. Even if you think, “I should already know this,” if you ask the question, there’s a good chance someone else may tell you later, “I was wondering about that as well.” Don’t worry about the perception of others over your desire to increase your knowledge.
This might also sound obvious – good students study, right? Why include that here? Not everyone has good study habits. Some people wait until the last minute and cram. That might get you through the next quiz or exam, but you won’t retain the knowledge long-term. Review your material several days ahead of time.
Use the small time blocks discussed above, and vary your studying methods – use the textbook, make flash cards, or do your own practice quizzes. Take notes during class. You will be able to stay focused during class, as well as have a better handle on what to focus on for the next exam. Set up a designated study space.
Of course, you want a space that minimizes distractions. Do your best to stay away from the television and the cell phone. You want a place where you can give your full attention to the task at hand. Find a study group. Gathering with a group of people who are all learning the same thing is a great tool.
Chances are, each person will have grasped different parts of the material well, and each person could be struggling with a different aspect. You can coach each other and ensure everyone has the material mastered. You can not only ensure you are a successful student, but you could make some new friends as well.
The best student doesn’t wait to be told what to do next, what to prioritize or what to focus on this month, but will look at the situation and make a plan for accomplishing the objectives – visualize what success looks like.
You may have to “look out for #1” on occasion – if a family get-together gets scheduled at the same time as exam week, you may have to decline so you can ensure you will be successful in your study. This is a trait that will serve you well throughout your life.
When a person sets a major goal, there is so much joy, satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when that goal is reached. You have set your goal, and you know that being a great student is a key part of reaching the goal.
Use these 6 qualities of a successful student, and you are on your way.