Habits for Success

Twelve Habits of Successful College Students

How did you describe the most successful students?

  • Do they all make straight A’s?
  • Do they spend all their time studying?
  • Are they the best looking or the best-dressed students?
  • Do they go to the most parties?
  • Are they all leaders in one of the campus organizations?
  • Do they have the most friends?
  • Does everyone seem to know them?

Mandavi, the woman in the picture, didn’t have an easy time in college. She had to work very hard. But she didn’t give up. She was self-motivated and set high goals for herself. Look at her now. She is a successful woman and she knows it..

The Arts Education Partnership describes successful students this way.

Current educational discourse identifies engaged, successful students as students who are prepared for achievement in school, work, and life in the increasingly global and high-tech 21st Century. They are equipped with core academic content knowledge. They are also equipped with cognitive skills and capacities for critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and innovation; personal capacities for self-regulation, self-efficacy, self-expression, and self-motivation; and social and civic capacities for communication, collaboration, and participation in changing societies.

Another great discussion of Success is this very short Ted Talk by Richard St. John. He interviewed over 500 very successful people and came up with eight traits or habits that lead to success. St. John began this project, interviewing successful people after a teen-aged girl on a plane asked him what success meant and how a person could be successful. http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html

His eight traits include:

  1. Passion: Love what you do
  2. Work really hard.
  3. Focus on one thing.
  4. Keep pushing yourself – don’t give up.
  5. Come up with good ideas.
  6. Continue to improve: Practice, practice, practice.
  7. Serve others, sharing ideas, information or something else of value.
  8. Persist, even when you fail. Don’t give up.

All of these apply to college students except number three. You might want to focus on one thing at a time, but college is the time to explore many subjects, many possible majors, and many possible career goals.


As you read this list, evaluate yourself. Think about your own habits. List the ones that need improvement and plan how you’re going to make changes. Notice that many habits are linked to further pages. You don’t need to read all of them, but you might want to know more in areas where you need to improve.

The twelve habits are  divided into two sections, making it easier to find the ones you want to read about. All twelve habits are important for successful learners.

The Six Personal Habits

1. Self-Knowledge         2.  Health Habits that affect Learning      3. Self-Control

4. Wise Decisions         5. Social Skills                                      6. Positive Attitudes

The Six Habits for Learning

1. Setting Goals      2. Get Organized (including Time Management)    3. Classroom Habits

4. Homework Habits                     5. Test Preparation                       6. Independent Learning