Successful students don't come by success without working at it. There are a lot of smart people in college, so just being smart is not much of a distinguishing trait. Successful students have habits that that contribute much to their success. Many of these habits are behaviors that any student can adopt. Here are a few of them.
Successful students go to class. Most college classes do not have an attendance requirement, so many students simply choose to skip class when they don't feel like going.
Successful students read the assigned material before class. Many students have told me they don't read the assigned material until after it has been covered in class. They reason that they will understand it better if they read it after the professor has explained. That may be true, but they would understand the material even better if they read it before class so they could (1) pay particular attention to the parts they didn't understand when they read it and (2) ask the professor questions about the parts they didn't understand. When students read the assigned material before class, they are seeing it for a second time in class.
Successful students do homework even when it is not assigned. Many professors will not assign homework. So, many students will not do homework. When the textbook has problems or questions at the end of chapter, successful students work the problems and answer the questions. Afterward, they seek out the solutions (from a professor or a teaching assistant) for any solution / answer that they are not 100% confident about.
Successful students join student groups. If your major has a student group, join it and become an active member. It's the best way to build a community of students to study with and it is also key to navigating the recruiting process when you are searching for a job in your senior year.
Successful students lead balanced lives. Successful students make time to eat, sleep, study, and play. They eat at least one healthy meal a day. They get an appropriate amount of sleep. They play intramural sports or work out (even if it is a casual routine) at the recreation center. And, they do the other academic things listed above.
Even if you are working to help pay for your college expenses, you can incorporate these success factors into your life. You must do it to maximize your likelihood of success.
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