If you regularly watch the news or read the newspaper, you have come across all sorts of tips in these past two weeks about helping your son or daughter enter university or college.
These tips range from issues regarding diet, exercise, and time management to how to help them cope with being away from home for the first time.
Yet although these tips are good, they are not why students succeed.
Most studies will show you that the successful students are those who take ownership of the learning process.
Skip Downing, an English professor at Baltimore Community College and author of On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and Life, came up with eight characteristics which describe a successful student. You will note that none of these have to do with diet, exercise or sleep.
The first is that these students accept personal responsibility. In other words they know it’s up to them to succeed at college or university. Nobody is going to do the work for them.
Number two is they have self-motivation. They know why they are there and their primary goal is to succeed today and graduate tomorrow.
Three, they are able to self-manage. This means they don’t party with their friends all night before a big exam.
Four, these students realize they need support and build relationships that will help them succeed.
Five, these students have enough self-awareness to know what they need to do to succeed and have the right behaviours, beliefs, and attitudes to be successful.
Number six is they believe in lifelong learning and realize this first foray into post-secondary education is short and just the beginning. Someone who is 20 years of age and gets this one usually understands that learning happens in and outside of the classroom.
It won’t stop at their first post-graduation job.
The seventh characteristic is important. Successful students have the emotional intelligence to move into the adult world. They can effectively manage their emotions and realize this is important to be successful. They won’t let a failed relationship, or a poor grade become an overwhelming focus where nothing else matters. (Can you say drama queen?). The drama of high school is behind them and they understand they cannot afford the energy or the time required for emotional trauma.
And, finally, the last successful characteristic is that these students believe in themselves.
Helping our children develop those traits, habits and outlooks is the best thing we can do in the quest to ensure they succeed in post-secondary. That, and reminding them that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.