Putting It Together: Habits for Success

In this module, you learned about some of the key resources you can utilize and habits you can develop to be a successful college student, particularly in your writing courses. As you work your way through higher education, remember the following ideas:

  • You can define what success looks like for you, and set goals to achieve it
  • There are people, resources, and tools available to help you—don’t hesitate to ask for help
  • Make a schedule and manage your time wisely
  • Use critical thinking skills to evaluate new information and to solve problems
  • Reflection means exploring the “so what” rather than just the “what”
  • You can reflect meaningfully on past events, present events, or future events
  • Reflection happens across all academic disciplines and into your career

Symbols of Success

As you move more deeply into student life, consider selecting a symbol of your commitment to success. Consider your personal definition of “success” you determined earlier in this section. What would a physical representation of that success look like? Many people consider graduation caps or diplomas as symbols of college success.  If those are meaningful to you, consider one of those as an option.  Alternatively, yours can become more personal–an item that speaks to you as a sign of what you’re working towards, and how you’ll know you’ve “made it.”

Some ideas from previous students include:

  • a stethoscope, for an aspiring medical student
  • a set of professional salon scissors, for an aspiring beautician
  • an office door nameplate, for an aspiring law student
a stethoscope, a set of gold-plated scissors, and a wooden office door

Figure 1. Most individuals will have a different definition of what success looks like to them.

Once you find a meaningful symbol—perhaps an object or an image or even an idea—keep it in a place where you can easily access it. In moments when you may need a boost, you can remind yourself that college success begins and ends with your commitment to learning well.

Link to Learning

Consider this talk by Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). At the young age of twelve, he marched with Martin Luther King, and now, at UMBC, he works to create an environment that helps underrepresented students—specifically African American, Latino, and low-income learners—get degrees in math and science. In the following video, he shares the four pillars of UMBC’s approach, which focus on having high expectations, getting involved in research and hands-on activities, building community with those around you, and connecting with supportive faculty. It’s an inspiring talk for any college student, no matter what your major may be. You can also read the transcript.