Introduction to Habits for Success

What you’ll learn to do: identify common habits that lead to success in college

Five young men in graduation gowns.

People go to college for a range of different reasons, and so the phrase “college success” can mean different things for different people. Traditionally, college was a place some young adults went after high school to explore courses and majors before settling into a job path. According to a 2019 survey[1], most people choose to attend college for one or more reasons:

  1. To be able to get a better job
  2. To gain a general education and appreciation of ideas
  3. To become a more cultured person
  4. To be able to make more money
  5. To learn more about things that interest me
  6. To get training for a specific career
  7. To prepare for graduate or professional school
  8. To please their families

Take a moment to think about the reasons you are here. You might want to take a minute to write down a few thoughts in order to answer these questions:

  1. Why attend college now?
  2. How do you define success in college?
  3. What do you imagine college life to be like?
  4. Do you think you are ready for college? Why or why not?
  5. What have you done to prepare for college?
  6. What do you think college professors expect from students?
  7. What do you think going to college means for your future?

Regardless of your personal goals and expectations, doing well in college means learning new behaviors and understanding a new culture. Professors and college administrators, for example, will expect you to behave in certain ways, often without any explicit instructions on their part. Professors will expect you to spend several hours a week working on class concepts (homework, writing, preparing for exams) on your own time. They may not tell you WHEN to spend those hours, but leave it up to you to recognize the need to put in the effort and schedule the time accordingly.

In this section, we examine the strategies you can employ to understand the expectations of college and achieve success in your endeavors.

  1. Stolzenberg, E. B., Aragon, M. C., Romo, E., Couch, V., McLennan, D., Eagan, M. K.,& Kang, N. The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2019)