Characteristics of a Successful Student

Characteristics of a Successful Student

Many students in high school do not know what it takes to be successful in the school environment. They understand good and bad grades in a general way, and they sense that they should attend classes, but that is where their knowledge begins and ends.

Most teachers know what a good student is – and is not. For one thing, a good student is not necessarily the most intelligent individual in the class.

The following is a list of some characteristics of good students. This list is a description of what a hard-working student does and what a teacher likes to see. By learning these characteristics, you may better understand the day-to-day and class-to-class behavior of successful students. The idea is to provide you with guidelines you can follow which will help you get down to the business of becoming a serious, successful student.

  1. Successful students attend classes regularly. They are on time. They listen and train themselves to pay attention. If they miss a class, they feel obligated to let the teacher know why before class begins, if possible, and their excuses are legitimate and reasonable. They make sure they get all missed assignments (by contacting the teacher or another student), and understand specifically what was covered in class. Successful students take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

  2. Successful students take advantage of extra credit opportunities when offered. They demonstrate that they care about their grades and are willing to work to improve them. They often do the optional (and frequently challenging) assignments that many students avoid.

  3. Successful students are attentive in class. They don’t talk, read, use their cell phone, or stare out windows. In other words, they are polite and respectful, even if they get a little bored. They also participate in class even if their attempts are a bit clumsy and difficult. They ask questions that the teacher knows many other students may also have.

  4. Successful students see their teachers before or after class or during their prep about grades, comments on their papers, and upcoming tests. Successful students end up talking to their teacher outside of class at least once during the semester. They’ll go out of their way to find the teacher and engage in meaningful conversation. These students demonstrate to the teacher that they are active participants in the learning process and that they take the job of being a student seriously.

  5. Successful students turn in assignments that look neat and sharp. They take the time to produce a final product that looks good, and reflects of a care and pride in their work. Successful students seem driven to complete their assignments. All work and assignments are turned in, even if some of their responses are not brilliant.

Motivation and Goal Setting

Visualize Success


You are your own best motivator. Your motivation must come from within yourself. Others may try to encourage you, but you are the only one who can attain what you desire. You must convince yourself – you can!

Success comes in cans!

Throughout your school years you will have to make many choices; view these choices as opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to be burden with problems; they are really only challenges. Train yourself from the start to put your time and energy into finding solutions to your challenges, not in complaining. You must adjust your attitude and retrain your thought process.

Start with surrounding yourself with positive people. They will encourage and nurture you. Stay away from negative people because they will discourage you and sabotage your dreams and goals.

You need to hold yourself accountable. Write a letter of intent to yourself, date it, and sign it. Put this letter some place where you will see it everyday. Go to a friend or fellow student and make a commitment to each other. It helps to be accountable to someone else.

If you develop your dreams into goals, and your goals into realities, then your realities will become your successes!

Goal Setting

Goals provide direction in your life and nurture your motivation

Goals are like road maps; they get you from one point to another. Goals provide the direction you need to reach your destination, the motivation to sustain you on your trip, and a way to measure your progress. The best way to get results is to plan for the future, but live one day at a time.

Think about the future. How do you define success? What makes you happy? What drives you? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? Does success mean family, money, security, prestige, to help others, improve the environment, solve problems, a career, a degree? Whatever you decide, the key is to strengthen your will to succeed. To succeed, strengthen your will – to strengthen your will, succeed. This sounds circular, and it is – it is a positive feedback loop.

To get this positive feedback loop started, develop a long-term plan. Where do you want to be 3-5 years from now? What do you want to be doing? Where do you want to live? What kind of vacations do you want to take? What is your house going to look like? What kind of car will you be driving? What color will the car be? Get very specific with your dreams and your plans. If your dreams are specific, your goals will be specific. Never ask yourself the questions – “What if”, or “What would happen if”. Make the questions a positive affirmation of what you will do! Prioritize your goals – what is the most important goal for you and what is the first thing you need to do to start towards that goal? Then plan backwards in time and outline the major steps it will take for you to arrive at that future destination.

Once you have the big picture, break your outline into individual, short-term goals. Short -term goals should range from daily goals to one-year goals, midterm goals should range from 2-3 years, and long term goals are up to 5 years. Make your list very specific and realistic. You want to be successful in reaching your goals, but at the same time, these goals should challenge you. At the end of each day reward yourself and strengthen your resolve for tomorrow.

Some Suggested Goals:

  • Be a Life Long Learner
  • We live in exciting and interesting times. We live at the crossroads of revolutions in electronic technology, genetic engineering, and international economics. The only certainty in life is change, opportunity for some, and future shock for others. Education is the door to opportunity. Your most valuable asset and skill in life as well as in the market place is your ability to learn and to apply this knowledge.
  • Clarify Educational Plans
  • If you have declared a major, great! If not, do not worry – it is okay. Many students are unsure of their major until they are about halfway through college. If you don’t know what you want to major in, then research various careers, talk to counselors, visit businesses, and/or interview people already working in the fields you are interested in.
  • Become an Efficient, Successful Student
  • No matter what your goals are, work at maximum efficiency. Be a student who works smarter as well as harder.

No one can teach you how to think,
you must motivate yourself to learn how to learn!