Many students new to college do not know what it takes to be successful in the college 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 instructors 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.

  • Successful students attend classes regularly.  They are on time.  They listen and train themselves to pay attention.  If they miss a session, they feel obligated to let the instructor 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 instructor or another student), and understand specifically what was covered in class.  Successful students take responsibility for themselves and their actions.
  • 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.
  • Successful students are attentive in class.  They don't talk, read, 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 instructor knows many other students may also have.
  • Successful students see their instructors before or after class or during office hours about grades, comments on their papers, and upcoming tests.  Successful students end up at their instructor's office door at least once during the semester.  They'll go out of their way to find the instructor and engage in meaningful conversation.  These students demonstrate to the instructor that they are active participants in the learning process and that they take the job of being a student seriously.
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.