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What Is The Secret Behind Successful Students?

What Is The Secret Behind Successful Students?
When you dig a little deeper into the student experience, you realize many of them are mindlessly drifting from task to task rather than understanding the skills they should be gaining and sharpening from their assignments. Photo by Cornelia Kopp.

Most of the time people think a student is successful when they get good academic grades. But when you look a little closer, those who achieve good grades are sometimes unhappy students who have only learned to do what teachers ask.

It’s also said that a student is successful when he or she finds something that motivates him or her to go every day to university, sit down for several hours and seek answers to the questions their teachers and colleagues pose.

A student can be successful only in an area and gain social recognition too, for example in a sports or artistic field.

But sometimes we must think beyond, questions like: Does a s successful student always find success when he or she leaves the University?

Various studies show that the answer… is not necessarily. Actually, sometimes they feel lost without the tight schedules and the need to determine their own execution, after many years that others identify and assess their performance.

One option is teaching Metacognition, but is not necessarily a good way, especially if it is seen more as another academic subject and it fails to explain the benefits of it outside the classroom. That’s why I think t the best thing is to clearly explain the use of it in everyday life.

Another element of success, without doubt, it’s planning goals. How many students go from one task to another without stopping to meditate on the impact of their work and the formation of skills? This is the reason when they are ready to complete their studies, they are so anxious and it’s usual to hear someone say, “I don’t know that I know”. The worst comment of all, though, is “I do not feel confident about myself”.

So when I think about a program with a meta cognitive strategy, this should add several elements to push to students to success, both inside and outside the college classroom, and I just will mention a few elements:

–          Meta cognitive Skills, applied not only to deliver tasks, but solving everyday problems, planning  tasks and goals, scope of goals, analysis of resources, search solutions, environments, analysis and synthesis of information, search for information skills, and handling computer devices.

–          Cognitive abilities, of course, reading, writing because they will be essential in any environment. Math skills are not left behind, regardless of the working area, will be essential, and I cannot forget skills of analysis and synthesis of information applied to the reading.

–          Planning of short, medium, and long-term goals, not academic goals, but life goals, where they see themselves at 6 months, a year or 10.

–          Creativity, no doubt the resolution of tasks is a good scope, but this implies flexible thinking and this is so important to the adaptation of the environment.

–          Leadership, ability to see myself as a leader capable of action not those others require them, but begin tasks on its own initiative, by owns efforts and a team.

–          Ability to adapt to not usual environments. This feature is curious, but there are many university students who do not know to do outside of the environment which for so many years has nestled. Even if they have been at work in companies by way of training for the exterior, they continue seeing themselves as “student” and this  prevents them from understanding that the time they spend doing work in real environments is only a preliminary step towards “real world”

–          Ability to rely on own strengths and know the weaknesses. Sounds easy, right?, because it is one of the major weaknesses of the University. Students are told all the time what to do, when to do it, how to do it.

–          Extrinsic motivation, of course will certainly be something good in all undertaken in the future.

–          Search for success. There is something called the “the imposter syndrome,” it’s linked particularly to higher education students, and it’s the fact that people do not feel like they have worked hard to achieve goals,  they believe that all have been gotten is  based on luck. But luck is the audacity of being at the right time, with work and precise skills.

–          Sense of humor, successful people has the feature to take life with philosophy. They learn from their mistakes and make them successful. How do you teach that?.

Finally I would like to say that there is controversy if Higher education should promote the work skills or skills for life. I think that both, finally the dream of all students is to conclude their education and find a good job where allow you demonstrate what they learned. Alternatively, apply to their life and touch the lives of others with what you learned. What do you think?



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Richardson, M., Abraham, C., and Bond, R. (2012) Psychological correlates of University students´ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 138 (2) 353-387.

Schultz, K. (2011) On being wrong. Talk at TED. Available at:

Zarei, E., Shokrpour, N., Nasiri, E., and Kafipour, R. (2012) Self-esteem and academic success as influenced by reading strategies. English Language Teaching. 5 (2) 17-26.

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